Ferrari has denied falling victim to the global economic crisis, even though it plans to shed up to 10 per cent of its workforce this week.
Global sales at the Italian supercar maker have dived from almost 600 a month to just 92 cars in November and Ferrari is now negotiating with Italy’s trade unions to trim unwanted road-car production staff.
The company has admitted it could shed up to 300 employees as early as this Friday.
Ferrari will also shut its Maranello production plant for an unprecedented 20 days over Christmas, which sources insist will be to prevent vehicle stockpiles reaching unmanageable levels.
The company won its 16th F1 World Constructor’s Championship last month and still boasts of a two-year waiting list on its high-priced, exclusive road cars, but sources said that troubling stocks have built up at some of its distributors around the world, particularly in the UK.
As recently as the Paris motor show last October, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo had been speaking of a sales target of 10,000 cars for 2010 which, even with the new Ferrari California on stream early next year, now seems wildly optimistic.
Back then di Montezemolo insisted the financial crisis held no concerns for Ferrari because a reduction in sales would allow it to respond quickly to markets that might have otherwise waited years for cars.
“Of course the economic problems are being considered,” he said. “It depends how long this crisis goes on, if this is close to the end or not. Because we will see a different world out the other side."
The Ferrari chairman went on castigate the financiers whom he regards as responsible for the economic meltdown.
“It will be a world more close to industry and real numbers and products and not close to speculation," said di Montezemolo.
“I hope that when it finishes there will be more feet on the ground in the financial world,” he said.
Insiders have confirmed that sales of the V12-powered Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Ferrari 599 Fiorano have effectively stalled and Ferrari has moved both models into a special customisation program to mask the seriousness of the problem.
Even worse, sales of its smaller, V8-powered Ferrari F430 – the core of the company's volume and profit, and due to be replaced late in 2009 – plummeted after the official unveiling of Ferrari’s new California in October.
Ferrari has denied that the company has been adversely affected by the credit crunch. The company said that the extended break was merely Ferrari being generous to its employees, even if all contracts were under review.
“We are going to have a meeting with the trade unions this week and we had a meeting with the union last week,” a Ferrari spokesman said.
“We don’t know if there is a figure decided, but we are certainly not taking people on board unless they are crucial.
“What’s being talked about [with the unions] is not renewing the people on one-year contracts, which would be about 300 people, and closely examining the consultancies and advisors and that kind of spending.
“We are just being careful. Nobody knows the future anymore and even having a waiting list like ours doesn’t guarantee anything for your future.”
Ferrari has said that the Christmas break (19 December to 7 January) is a coincidence of dates: “The two weekends have come at the right moment. If we needed to stop production we could have taken the entire week off instead of coming back on the Thursday.”
And, while sources insisted F430 stockpiles were growing and V12 production was at a virtual standstill, Ferrari’s spokesman insisted sales of luxury cars always slowed in the last months of the year.
“The only region where there are stocks is the UK,” he said.
“It’s the market where we have some problems. In the US, nothing much has changed for us apart from a slight braking of sales.”
“For sure, the F430 Spider is not doing very well, because of winter and the California, so there are stocks in some places.”