British engineering firm GKN said Tuesday it would axe 564 jobs and close three factories in a major restructuring amid weak demand stemming from the worldwide economic slowdown.
"The actions being announced today are regrettable but absolutely necessary to respond to the global economic downturn that is particularly affecting the automotive industry," said GKN Automotive Chief Executive Nigel Stein in a company statement.
"We are in unprecedented times and we must protect our position as a leading global automotive supplier and ensure we are in a strong position to meet our customers' needs now and when markets recover."
The firm said it would cut 473 jobs at automotive sites in central England, while another 91 positions will be axed at aerospace plants in Burnley, northwestern England, and Luton, north of London.
GKN added that it would close its Hamstead facility in Birmingham by the end of 2009, and its car parts factory in Walsall by 2010.
Another 150 jobs will also be shed at an automotive factory in Telford later this year, while the Burnley factory will also be wound down.
At the same time, GKN said it will invest 7.0 million pounds (7.9 million euros, $10 million) over the next three years to upgrade its central England base in Erdington.
"GKN announced plans today to consolidate its UK driveline component operations into a single centre of excellence at its existing plant at Erdington, Birmingham," the firm said in a statement.
"The move secures the long term sustainability of its driveline component manufacturing capability in the UK at a difficult time and ensures a competitive UK supply of car parts to its customers in the UK and around the world."
GKN, which has a global workforce of around 42,000, including 5,000 in Britain, had already signalled in October that it would cut jobs and close plants in response to the global downturn.
The group had revealed last month that it had cut 2,800 jobs worldwide since October.
In September, GKN announced it had struck a deal to buy Airbus' wing-making plant in Filton, western England, for 136 million pounds.