French Government Warns Renault Against Job Cuts, Factory Closures

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Last week, Renault reported its first significant loss in a decade (€141 million) and a 3.3-percent decline in annual sales for 2019. It now expects a flat 2020 and claims it needs to commit itself to a €2 billion restructuring program over the next three years. Alliance partner Nissan also anticipates a weak year, and is doubling down on its own restructuring efforts by showcasing an eagerness to do whatever it takes to restore profitability.

However, the French government wants Renault to slow down and think about things before it starts shuttering local factories. Owner of a 15-percent stake in the automaker, it doesn’t wish to see its investment doing anything embarrassing. As such, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the company to be exceedingly careful with how it handles business in France, urging it to avoid any measures that might negatively impact domestic employment rates.

“The state will play its role as shareholder in Renault to make sure that the choices which will be made will not go against jobs and factories in France,” he explained to Reuters.

Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has reportedly already gone over the company’s cost-cutting strategy with Le Maire via phone. The finance minister said this would become a regular occurrence, with the government wanting to keep close tabs on the restructuring process. Yet the manufacturer may have to disappoint its home country all the same.

While China is one of the largest problem areas for Renault, acting CEO Clotilde Delbos has already said the automaker would have to consider plant closures outside of Asia. When asked about the possibility of closing factories in France, she indicated that the company couldn’t rule anything out.

“Our 2019 is where we told you it would be, but it’s not where we want it to be,” she to explained. “We are not satisfied with our results.”

[Image: josefkubes/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Kendahl Kendahl on Feb 18, 2020

    It's another form of protectionism. If Renault wants to be be French company and enjoy cordial relations with the French government, it will sacrifice workers in foreign countries before Frenchmen regardless of the business case. They used to tell the Foreign Legion that they saved the lives of Frenchmen by dying in their place. Years ago, I read that France effectively froze out VCRs from the Far East. They claimed that, for safety, it was necessary to physically inspect each and every VCR imported into the country. Only one customs employee was assigned to the job and nobody complained if he came in late, left early and took long lunches. France has a real problem with its employee protection laws. Once someone is hired, it's nearly impossible to get rid of him. The result is that employers are very cautious about taking on new employees. That doesn't help unemployment numbers.

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Feb 19, 2020

    In some ways, I wish we were more like the French.... willing to turn out en masse to protest terrible government decisions, being educated/aware of issues and basing opinions on facts and not vice versa, etc. And then there are things like this that lay bare FrancoFoolishness that's hard to get your head wrapped around....

    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Feb 19, 2020

      You do not really want it. If it happens you will regret you said that. The last thing we need it is more violence on the streets.

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.