British group Liberty Engineering, owned by industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, has won its bid to secure the last remaining French manufacturer of aluminium wheels, AR Industries (ARI) and the hundreds of jobs that depend on it. Tuesday’s ruling by the court of administration in Orleans means that Liberty – part of the GFG Alliance – can now put in place a comprehensive three-year recovery plan for the ARI site at Châteauroux including investments in advanced manufacturing equipment, improvements in safety and quality standards and growing its customer base.
The acquisition marks a further expansion of GFG’s presence in the global automotive sector and is the latest step in the group’s strategy to establish a major industrial presence in France. It follows the recent announcement that the UK group is also buying Aluminium Dunkerque, Europe’s largest aluminium smelter from Rio Tinto. The Dunkerque smelter is already a major supplier of raw material to ARI. The inclusion of both upstream and downstream operations in GFG’s French portfolio aim at establishing France as a major operating hub for the group in Continental Europe.
The plan for the ARI plant, which will save around 350 jobs and hundreds more in the supply chain and regional economy, has been made possible by commitments, secured by GFG, from major French car manufacturers. This support will give the group the necessary time to implement its improvement plans for the business. The plant has capacity to make two million alloy wheels a year.