(credit: British Leyland Motor Corporation logo, drawn using XaraX software, author; Emoscopes)
The British Leyland Motor Corporation ("BLMC"), was a vehicle manufacturing company formed in the United Kingdom in 1968. Ultimately it would become nationalised as British Leyland, and then known just as BL.
BLMC was created in 1968 by the merger of British Motor Holdings (BMH) and Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC), encouraged by the Wilson Labour Government (1964-1970). The merger combined most of the remaining independent British car manufacturing companies and included car, bus and truck manufacturers and more diverse enterprises including construction equipment, refrigerators, metal casting companies, road surface manufacturers; in all nearly 100 different companies. The new corporation was organised into seven divisions under its new chairman Sir Donald Stokes (formerly the chairman of LMC).
The company became an infamous monument to the industrial turmoil that plagued Britain in the 1970s. At its peak, BLMC owned nearly 40 different manufacturing plants across the country. Even before the merger BMH had included marques that were in theory competitors though selling basically similar cars. To this was added the competition from other marques Rover against Jaguar at the higher end, Triumph with its family cars and sports cars against Austin Morris. The result was a broad product range which was incoherent and full of duplication. This, combined with serious industrial relations problems (principally, the company's relations with hard-line trade unions of the time), the 1973 oil crisis, the three-day week, high inflation and ineffectual management meant that BL became an unmanageable and financially crippled behemoth whose bankruptcy in 1975 was inevitable.
Sir Don Ryder was asked to undertake an enquiry into the position of the company, and his report, The Ryder Report, was presented to the government in April 1975. Following the report's recommendations the organisation was drastically restructured and the second Wilson Labour Government (1974?1976) took control by creating a new holding company British Leyland Limited (BL) of which it was the major shareholder. The company was now organised into the following four divisions:
- Leyland Cars - the largest car manufacturer in the UK, employing some 128,000 people at 36 locations, and with a production capacity of one million vehicles per year.
- Leyland Truck and Bus - the largest commercial and passenger vehicle manufacturer in the UK, employing 31,000 people at 12 locations, producing 38,000 trucks, 8,000 buses and 19,000 tractors per year.
- Leyland Special Products - the miscellaneous collection of other acquired businesses, itself structured into five sub-divisions:
--- Construction Equipment - Aveling-Barford, Aveling-Marshall, Barfords of Belton and Goodwin-Barsby
--- Refrigeration - Prestcold
--- Materials Handling - Coventry Climax (incorporating Climax Trucks, Climax Conveyancer and Climax Shawloader)
--- Military Vehicles - Alvis and Self-Changing Gears
--- Print - Nuffield Press and Lyne & Son
- Leyland International - responsible for the export of cars, trucks and buses, and responsible for manufacturing plants in Africa, India and Australia, employing 18,000 people.
In 1978 the company formed a new group for its commercial vehicle interests, BL Commercial Vehicles (BLCV) under managing director David Abell. The following companies moved under this new umbrella:
- Leyland Vehicles Limited (trucks, tractors and buses)
- Alvis Limited (military vehicles)
- Coventry Climax Limited (fork lift trucks and specialist engines)
- Self-Changing Gears Limited (heavy-duty transmissions)
In 1984 Jaguar Cars became independent once more, through a public sale of its shares. In 1986 BL changed its name to Rover Group and in 1987 the Trucks Division merged with the Dutch DAF company to form DAF NV, trading as Leyland DAF in the UK and as DAF in the Netherlands. In 1987 the bus business was spun-off into a new company called Leyland Bus. This was the result of a management buyout who decided to sell the company to the Bus & Truck division of Volvo in 1988.
In 1988 the remaining Rover Group business was sold by the British Government to British Aerospace (BAe).
Many of the brands were divested over time and continue to exist to this day. The heir to most of the volume car business was MG Rover which collapsed in April 2005.
(text source: Wikipedia)
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