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Van Hool, manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, presented the main lines of its 'Van Hool Recovery Plan' to employee representatives during a special works council.

The company has expressed the intention to strategically reorient its activities towards market segments where customers consciously choose the high quality of Van Hool products, according to this morning's press release from the digital trade magazine Passenger Transport Magazine studied.  

The implementation of the 'Van Hool Recovery Plan' has been drawn up in such a way that it makes a sustainable future possible for the company under its own steam. Unfortunately, the intention to reorient also entails difficult interventions. To support this strategic change of course, the organization, working methods and number of employees will have to be aligned. The company therefore deeply regrets that it would be carrying out a necessary restructuring at the Koningshooikt branch in the period 2024-2027. This plan would result in the farewell of approximately 1.100 valued colleagues during that period. 

“We understand the impact this plan has on employees and their families, and it is difficult for us to take this step,” says co-CEO Marc Zwaaneveld. “However, given the urgent situation the company finds itself in, it is really necessary to take these measures to secure a sustainable future for Van Hool. With this 'Van Hool Recovery Plan' we remain a meaningful employer in Flanders.” 

The largest number of departures, approximately 830, will take place this year. This includes various forms of parting such as layoffs, pension plans and natural attrition. In the years 2025 and 2026, based on past experience, more than 50 additional natural departures would be planned, allowing the recovery plan objectives for that period to be achieved. By 2027, approximately 220 more employees would leave the company through layoffs and retirement plans. The 'Van Hool Recovery Plan' ultimately provides for direct employment of approximately 1.400 employees and almost 3.000 when indirect employment is included, the vast majority of which in the region. Employee representatives are invited to participate in the upcoming information and consultation rounds. 

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The 'Van Hool Recovery Plan' and the associated reorientation of activities are the answer to turning around the challenging financial circumstances in which Van Hool finds itself. These conditions were caused by several factors, including the impact of the coronavirus, high energy costs, high inflation and global parts supply problems. Van Hool's management is determined to tackle these challenges and get the company back on track by implementing the 'Van Hool Recovery Plan'. 

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Photo: © De Lijn - Van Hool

Van Hool will talk to customers from various markets, including public transport, to discuss the consequences of this possible reorientation. This change means that the company will be more selective in accepting new orders from public transport. 

Production of buses and coaches will mainly take place at the plant in Skopje, North Macedonia. In Koningshooikt, division IV (Industrial Vehicles) would focus on semi-trailers that require a higher degree of knowledge and that offer higher added value for the customer and for Van Hool. The B&C (Bus & Coach) division will maintain its knowledge centre, research & development, prototype construction and after-sales in Koningshooikt. 

Van Hool was founded in 1947. The vast majority of production is intended for Europe and North America. The company has approximately 4.100 employees worldwide, the majority of whom work at the production sites in Koningshooikt (Belgium) and Skopje (North Macedonia). 

Editorial photo cover Passenger Transport Magazine.

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