JCB has started a consultation process with staff over proposed redundancies following a rapid deterioration in world construction equipment markets. The slowdown in recent weeks has been marked, particularly in the emerging markets, resulting in a sharp fall in machine orders.

As a result, JCB has today briefed employees that up to 400 staff positions are now at risk in the UK, although it will attempt to minimise the impact by considering voluntary redundancies.

JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald said: “Market conditions in the construction equipment sector have been difficult for some time, but they have worsened quite rapidly in recent weeks. The situation is not about to improve, certainly not in the short term, so we now need to take difficult but decisive actions to align overheads to lower sales forecasts. Regrettably, this will result in up to 400 staff positions becoming redundant across our UK businesses.”

In the first six months of the year, the market in Russia has dropped by 70%, Brazil by 36% and China by 47%. Parts of Europe are also struggling, with France down by 26%. Even the strong growth in the UK and North America has softened due to a fall in market confidence over the summer, which has been prompted to an extent by low oil and commodity prices in countries which depend on these resources to drive economic growth.