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Vauxhall/Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke has praised work carried out at the firm’s UK plants

Vauxhall/Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke has praised work carried out at the firm’s UK plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton – but warned that Vauxhall must increase its retail sales in order to achieve greater profits.

Stracke, who recently toured Vauxhall’s operations in the UK, said: "The work at Ellesmere and Luton is world class. Ellesmere’s absentee rate is the lowest of any plant in Europe – very impressive. Luton is an amazing operation, with almost no robotisation but still with a fantastic efficiency rating."

However, Stracke cautioned that Vauxhall is relying too heavily on sales to the fleet and rental markets, undermining its profitability.

"The number of sales is good, but we must boost the ratio of retail sales in order to maximise profits," he said. "That and the weak value of the pound are hurting us."

Stracke added that no decision will be made on whether the second generation Ampera will be built in Europe – with Ellesmere Port a likely candidate – until next year. Vauxhall's new electric vehicle is expected to go on sale in 2014.

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