CHAMPCAR/CART: FNIPPON: Lola announces new projects, reorganization

Lola announces new racecar projects and outlines group reorganization. Huntingdon, UK, June 21, 2002 -- Lola Cars International Ltd., the Huntingdon UK-based racing car designer and composites manufacturer, has today announced two new business...

Lola announces new racecar projects and outlines group reorganization.

Huntingdon, UK, June 21, 2002 -- Lola Cars International Ltd., the Huntingdon UK-based racing car designer and composites manufacturer, has today announced two new business gains in international motor sport championships and also has announced plans to restructure several component parts of the privately-owned group, in order to prepare the 45 year old company for the competitive business environment of the next five years. Following an extremely successful period of growth, in which Lola Cars International has increased market share at the expense of several of its competitors, the company is now making moves to secure a more evenly balanced long term future.

The new business wins are two key steps in the plan. In the 1980's and early 1990's Lola led the Japan based top international racing series, Formula Nippon; however since 1997 the company focused on the US ChampCarSeries, which it now dominates. Lola today announce that from 2003 onwards the company is returning to Japan, with a new specification of single seater racecar -- more details on this will be announced in the coming week.

Lola are also announcing today that they will be entering the Formula 3 market in 2003, with a new design for this racing class, traditionally the international training ground for the Grand Prix stars of tomorrow. These new F3 cars will be sold in the UK, France, Germany and Japan. Those top F3 teams who are already in discussions with Lola about the new car will be revealed during the autumn, as development of the new car proceeds.

Outside the motorsport industry Lola has been building a strong portfolio of new projects, and is announcing today other new ventures. In rowing boats, Lola has recently acquired all the manufacturing rights for Britain's top racing rowing boat company, Aylings. Lola is also expanding in the defense industry, in addition to winning an important manufacturing contract to supply carbon composite reinforcements for bridge sections on major roadways. These new projects and new emphases, combined with the major structural shifts in the motorsports market, have required an in-depth study of future options for Lola. This, in turn, has led to the need for internal reorganization.

As a result, today in Huntingdon, Christopher Tate, Head of Group Sales & Marketing, has announced Lola's decision to re-structure the Group's manufacturing capability. This includes the need to outsource some components of its racecar manufacture, as a practical way of preserving market gains made. "It is in the permanent reduction of our annual fixed costs that Lola sees the only way forward to deal with the swings in demand which are such a normal feature of the motor sports sector." Says Tate. "In so doing, we are fulfilling a key strategic aim of becoming a flexible,world class manufacturer in every market we serve."

"Leading edge engineering and design excellence, which have contributed so much to re-building Lola Cars International's global reputation, will remain in house. A new Head of Group Manufacturing, Paul Martin, has recently joined Lola in order to spearhead this process. Paul (previously with McLaren Cars, Advanced Composites Group and Rolls Royce) brings valuable, detailed experience of the management of composite manufacturing to the Lola group. "

Lola presently derives about one third of its income from composites for non-motor sport activities, particularly from the aerospace and defense industries. Under the new structure, it is intended to grow this and balance the profit contribution of the two divisions.

The merged group will inevitably cause a number of existing positions to become redundant and a corresponding decrease in personnel requirements. It is planned for some staff to be transferred internally to the recently acquired sister company, CTS, a composite company with a strong international reputation which became fully integrated into the Lola Group during June 2002. As this process moves forwards, and the sub-contracting opportunities increase, Lola's independent suppliers may be in a position to offer roles to those affected. Lola is also providing external professional help to be given to those employees impacted by these changes,either to help them gain a new position or consider self-employment.

Lola has grown from 45 staff in 1996 to its current level of 215, a period of consistent growth without precedent in the motor sport sector. Rationalization after such a rapid expansion and the various acquisitions within the current, rapidly changing, marketplace is inevitable. Christopher Tate explains, " We believe that Lola will do the best for the majority of its present employees, for its customers,suppliers and partners if we take this action now, rather than await events in the optimistic expectation of a return to the markets of the 1990's. Lola is a design and engineering-led company, and we have accumulated much experience and developed practical plans for the future, here at Huntingdon. If we take these difficult decisions now and embrace the changes we need to implement, we can plan on a structured future with a chance to grow again as our strategy develops." 

-lola-

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Series Automotive , F3 , IndyCar , Other open wheel