17 March 2005 | David Arminas
Rover will expand its procurement division if it gets the Beijing government's nod for a merged operation with Chinese car maker SAIC.
An announcement by the Chinese government allowing the co-operation with SAIC, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, is "expected in a few weeks", according to a Rover spokesman.
"We'll be hiring more purchasers as well as more engineering, design and development staff," he added.
"Exactly how many will be decided when we finally start working with SAIC."
But there will be more work for Rover staff sourcing from different locations, he said.
The proposed deal is designed to increase production at Rover's Longbridge site, where 6,000 workers turned out 106,000 cars last year.
SAIC has already pumped £130 million into Rover in anticipation of co-operation to jointly manufacture cars.
Andy Yearsley, a consultant in the automotive division of Capgemini, said the move to expand the purchasing team makes sense.
"Purchasing at Rover has been servicing an old line-up of models with the same suppliers for years," he said. "SAIC's cash injection means Rover's procurement team will have to gear up for doing more deals here and abroad.
"This could mean more people are needed with sourcing skills."
Suppliers in the West Midlands, Rover's heartland, should be "excited and nervous in equal measure" about the SAIC deal, he added, as increased production in the UK could mean big orders for British suppliers.