Easter closure may not be the last at Sunderland Nissan plant in wake of Japan quake

Nissan will be closing for three extra days this Easter because of a parts shortage caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan
Nissan will be closing for three extra days this Easter because of a parts shortage caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan
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NISSAN is not ruling out more disruption after the company announced its Sunderland plant will close for an extra three days over Easter.

Factory bosses say they are continuing to monitor problems caused by delays in the Japanese supply chain as a result of last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Today, workers at the plant will hold a mass fund-raiser to help those affected by the disaster. It comes just 24 hours after Japan suffered a large aftershock, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale.

Between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of Nissan’s components are shipped in from Japan, where the quake and its aftermath has severely affected industry.

The firm announced that it is bringing forward three non-production days scheduled for later in the year.

The closure is also likely to affect other Wearside firms in the supply chain who will have to adapt their output to fit in with the disruption.

The factory will not now re-open between Easter Monday on April 25 and the Royal Wedding bank holiday on Friday, April 29. A statement blamed “an interruption to the normal supply of components” for the move.

A plant spokesman said it was too early to rule out further temporary closures.

He said: “The situation going forward remains complex and plant management is in very close contact with the Japanese supply chain function to assess the need for any additional counter-measures on an on-going basis.

“Easter shut-down is our response to the current parts supply situation. Over the coming weeks, we will get further clarification and if further action is needed, we will announce it at the appropriate time.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice president for manufacturing in the UK, added: “We’ve taken this action in response to some short-term parts supply issues, while balancing our commitment to minimising any impact on our customers.

“This is a challenging period for all car manufacturers. Staff at Nissan Sunderland are responding professionally and flexibly, and I would like to pay tribute to their continuing high standards of performance.”

The move comes in the same week Honda has halved production at its Swindon plant while Toyota has banned overtime and scrapped three weekend shifts in response to the lack of components.

James Ramsbotham, North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “Nissan clearly has a strong supply chain, particularly here in the North East of England, which will be keeping disruption to production to a minimum.

“The business community in the region is incredibly supportive of Nissan and will do all it can to help. The Sunderland plant is exceptionally efficient and is experienced in flexing output up and down so we would hope that it can make up for this temporary supply chain issue over the coming weeks.”