JCB is stopping production at all of its UK manufacturing plants today, Wednesday, March 18, as a result of "disruption from the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, [causing] an unprecedented reduction in global demand".
The company is halting production for the rest of this week and the whole of next week at its nine manufacturing plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham.
Shop floor employees affected by the move will be paid in full during this period, the firm has assured.
No decision has yet been taken on what happens from the week commencing Monday, March 30, and beyond, the machinery giant said.
Office staff will continue to work a 39-hour week, with many working from home, in support of the UK government’s social distancing policy, the company said in a statement.
"As we continue to deal with the health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become more challenging to maintain business continuity in this volatile economic climate.
JCB is a global exporter, and worldwide demand for our products has dropped sharply as customers cancel orders and defer deliveries.
The CEO warned that the matter is not just a UK issue, stressing that it is impacting worldwide. He added "with countries like France, Spain and Italy going into lock-down, those key markets for construction equipment disappear overnight".
“In light of this fast-changing situation, we need to re-plan our production and, as a result, manufacturing at all UK factories will cease for the rest of this week and all of next week.
"This will allow us to take stock of the situation, re-plan our order book, prioritise products that are definitely required by customers, and ensure parts and components are reassigned to support the production of these products,” McDonald concluded.
JCB’s plant in Pudong, near Shanghai, ceased production last month as the impact of the pandemic initially took hold.
After several weeks of disruption, the factory is now fully operational again.