Van Hool

Van Hool announces strategic realignment: around 1,100 jobs are lost

11 March 2024

Belgium bus and coach manufacturer Van Hool is in financial trouble and has presented the outlines of a "Recovery Plan". This plan would result in the departure of about 1,100 employees over a three year period. The company expressed its intention to strategically refocus its activities. Van Hool says it will engage with customers from various markets, including public transport, "to discuss the implications of this potential realignment" and states that "this change means that the company will be more selective in accepting new orders from public transport".

Furthermore Van Hool says the production of buses and coaches will mainly take place at the plant in Skopje, northern Macedonia. In Belgium Koningshooikt, the IV (Industrial Vehicles) division would focus on semi-trailers requiring a higher degree of expertise and offering higher added value for the customer as well as for Van Hool. The B&C (Bus & Coach) division would keep its knowledge centre, research & development, prototype building and after-sales in Koningshooikt. To support this strategic change of direction, organisation, working methods and number of employees will have to be brought in line. The 1,100 redundancies will be in effect in the period 2024-2027, to implement a necessary restructuring at the Belgium Koningshooikt site. The largest number of departures, around 830, would take place this year. This includes various forms of departure such as redundancies, retirement schemes and natural attrition. In the years 2025 and 2026, based on past experience, over 50 more natural departures would be planned, allowing the recovery plan targets for that period to be met. In 2027, around another

220 employees would leave the company through redundancies and pension schemes. Over time, the Van Hool Recovery Plan envisages direct employment of about 1,400 employees and almost 3,000 if you include indirect employment, the vast majority of which is in the region. The company emphasizes that "the implementation of the Van Hool Recovery Plan is designed to enable a sustainable future under its own steam". With the Recovery Plan and the associated refocusing of operations, Van Hool sees possibilities to turn around the challenging financial conditions in which the company finds itself. These conditions were caused by several factors, including the impact of the corona virus, high energy costs, high inflation and global component supply problems. During a press conference it was said that additional financing is still required. Van Hool needs another 45 million euros and is looking towards the banks who already have outstanding loans for around 200 million euros. Together with the implementation of the Van Hool Recovery Plan, it should get the company back on track.