The British industrial group will save about 350 jobs by transforming the Châteauroux plant into a center of European expertise in R & D and wheel manufacturing
The takeover bid by the British group Liberty, headed by industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, was selected to save the last French manufacturer of aluminum rims, AR Industries (ARI), and the hundreds of jobs that depend on it.
Today’s ruling by the Orléans Administrative Court will allow Liberty – which is part of the GFG Alliance (GFG) – to put in place a three-year recovery plan for the ARI production site in Châteauroux. , including a program of investments in advanced engineering equipment, as well as improvements in safety and quality standards, and a development of the customer base.
This acquisition marks another step forward in GFG’s expansion into the global automotive sector, the latest step in its strategy to establish a leading industrial presence in France. It follows the recent announcement of the acquisition by the group of Aluminum Dunkerque, the largest aluminum smelter in Europe, owned by the Rio Tinto group.
The Dunkerque site is already one of ARI’s main raw material suppliers. The inclusion of these upstream and downstream operations in GFG’s French portfolio is part of its strategy to make France one of the group’s main operating centers in continental Europe.
The recovery plan of the ARI plant, which will save about 350 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs, was made possible by the commitments that GFG has obtained from major French car manufacturers. This support will give the group the necessary time to implement its improvement plans. The annual capacity of the plant is two million alloy wheels.
Sanjeev Gupta, President of GFG, said about the court’s decision:
“This is a very positive result, not only for our business but above all for ARI staff. As we have always said, France is one of the world’s largest industrial economies and represents a key market for us. ARI perfectly matches our activity and our investment strategy for France. We want to create in France the same type of vertically integrated sustainable structure that we have managed to set up in other markets, namely a structure based on added value and the preservation of skilled jobs.”
In recent years, GFG has achieved a large number of industrial turnarounds, particularly in the automotive sector. Nearly a quarter of its 12,000 employees worldwide work in the automotive sector. The company is also already a leading supplier of top automakers, including Nissan, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover.
Douglas Dawson CEO of Liberty Industries Group added:
“This is a very good result and a very important acquisition for Liberty. This represents a milestone in our ongoing plans to be a global, vertically integrated, leading supplier that is relevant and strategic to the engineering and automotive sectors.”
Philippe Baudon, director of development in France and Europe of Liberty, said:
“We are delighted by the court’s decision. It will allow us to retain more than 90% of jobs on the site and maintain the role of the plant in the French automotive supply chain. It also means that the expertise and valuable know-how of ARI employees will be maintained and even developed: we want the plant to take its rightful place as a center of expertise, not only for GFG Alliance but also for the automotive sector in general.”
“We would like to thank all the interested parties who participated in the process, including the employees and their representatives, the judicial administrators and the French authorities and in particular the main customers whose support was decisive. The positive and constructive approach of all concerned has facilitated today’s success and we look forward to working with them to realize our ambitions.”