The Mini plant, which is BMW’s biggest in the UK and employs around 4000 people, will shut for several weeks as the risk of a no-deal Brexit rises. Rolls-Royce's plant will close for two weeks from the same day, in addition to a planned one-week shutdown in July.
The Mini plant usually closes for a period of time over the summer for maintenance, but this will be moved to April as part of BMW’s Brexit plans. It is understood that this latest development is to mitigate the potential logistical impact of Brexit.
Rolls-Royce released the following statement: "While we believe that a hard and possibly disruptive Brexit is unlikely, as a responsible company we need to plan for the most challenging potential outcome. Our decisions have to be made in the best interest of our business, our workforce and our customers at the appropriate time, based on the best information available."
"The shutdown is scheduled to allow essential maintenance and rebalancing to take place during the first full production year for Cullinan. The timing has also been planned to coincide with the UK’s departure from the EU on 29 March 2019, as a mitigation measure for any resulting supply chain interruptions."
BMW UK boss Ian Robertson previously had to soften a statement made by the group’s customs manager Stephan Freismuth, who said: “We always said that we can do our best and prepare everything, but if at the end of the day the supply chain will have a stop at the border, we can't produce our products in the UK.”
Robertson clarified that the brand would not pull out of the UK amid a no-deal Brexit, saying: “We are committed to our operations in the UK, our workforce here.”
The Oxford plant supplies Minis to more than 110 countries around the world, although BMW Group boss Harald Krüger has previously pointed out that the brand also produces Minis at VDL Nedcar in the Netherlands. A no-deal Brexit could prompt the company to move some production to the Dutch plant.
Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth recently warned that Brexit could jeopardise thousands of jobs across its UK production facilities, when combined with the effects of the public’s backlash against diesel-powered cars.
BMW released the following statement: "Planned annual maintenance periods at BMW Group production sites allow essential updating and equipment replacement to be completed over several weeks, while there is no production taking place."