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CHINA

Volvo to add 10,000 staff: CEO

Swedish automaker Volvo, owned by China's Zhejiang Geely, plans to hire a further 10,000 new staff in the coming years, its chief executive said in an interview to be published Monday.

Volvo to add 10,000 staff: CEO

Most of the new staff will be added in China.

“We will increase our staff to between 33,000 and 35,000 by 2020,” Stefan Jacoby told Automotive News Europe magazine.

The company currently employs around 24,000 people worldwide — around 16,000 in Sweden, 5,000 in Belgium and 1,000 in China as well as 2,000 in other countries.

Jacoby said Volvo aimed to sell 800,000 vehicles per year by 2020, one-quarter of them in China, now the world’s biggest auto market.

In 2010, Volvo sold about 374,000 vehicles worldwide, with sales rising by 29 percent in northern Europe and 36 percent in China.

Geely bought Volvo from Ford last year.

While Sweden’s other major car brand, Saab, continues its battle to escape bankruptcy, Volvo’s announcement is a clear statement of intent.

The Local reported in October that Geely had approached Saab’s reconstructor, lawyer Guy Lofalk to express an interest.

According to reports in the Dagens Nyheter daily, Geely has been watching Saab’s struggles with interest, but has stayed cautious about entering the fray.

The firm refused however to confirm the reports and with Saab’s bankruptcy protection set to be lifted in December the speculation has cooled off.

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VOLVO

Sweden’s Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings

Swedish truck maker Volvo Group was hit by a sharp drop in earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but business rebounded at the end of the year.

Sweden's Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings
Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

In 2020, the group saw “dramatic fluctuations in demand” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive Martin Lundstedt said in a statement.

For 2021, Volvo raised its sales forecasts in its trucks division – its core business – in Europe, North America and Brazil.

However, it said it also expected “production disturbances and increased costs” due to a “strained” supply chain, noting a global shortage of semiconductors across industries.

The truck making sector is particularly sensitive to the global economic situation and is usually hard hit during crises.

In March, as the pandemic took hold around the world, Volvo suspended operations at most of its sites in 18 countries and halted production at Renault Trucks, which it owns, in Belgium and France.

Operations gradually resumed mid-year, but not enough to compensate for the drop in earnings.

With annual sales down 22 percent to 338 billion kronor (33.4 billion euros, $40 billion), the group posted a 46 percent plunge in net profit to 19.3 billion kronor (1.9 billion euros).

Operating margin fell from 11.5 to 8.1 percent.

However, the group did manage to cut costs by 20 percent.

“We have significantly improved our volume and cost flexibility, which were crucial factors behind our earnings resilience in 2020,” the group said.

Volvo's business regained strength in the second half of the year.

“Customer usage of trucks and machines increased when the Covid-19 restrictions were eased during the summer and this development continued during both the third and fourth quarters,” it said.

“Both the transport activity and the construction business are back at levels on par with the prior year in most markets.”

For the fourth quarter alone, the company reported a 38-percent rise in net profit from a year earlier.

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