Mike Stevens | May 7, 2010

FORD AUSTRALIA has announced a net after-tax profit of $13 million for 2009, marking a massive turnaround from its $274m loss in 2008. The profit puts the carmaker in the black for the first time since 2005.

Marin Burela, Ford Australia CEO, said the turnaround was a result of "decisive and immediate action" at the onset of the global financial crisis in late 2008.

"We acted quickly to significantly restructure our business in line with the prevailing market conditions," Mr Burela said. “We significantly changed our sales and production focus to build cars based on demand and introduced more fuel efficient vehicles like the Fiesta ECOnetic."

"The great work of our product development team paid off as the award-winning FG Falcon sedan increased its share of the large sedan segment from 25 per cent to 34 per cent over the year."

The company's strict 'build to order' approach saw Falcon and Territory production numbers dropping by around 7000 units. Total sales for the year ended at 99,279 vehicles - 9285 fewer than in 2008.

While revenue in 2009 fell $200 million to $3.1 billion, Mr Burela said that higher margins meant that its Broadmeadows assembly plant was now profitable.

Mr Burela acknowledged that while Ford Australia, like other local manufacturers, had benefited from the Federal Government's $400 million dollar support scheme, the company's turnaround was not dependent on the Government's help.

"[Our actions] have delivered on the goal of improving our cash reserves and returning Ford Australia to profit despite an industry-wide downturn in sales, providing a strong base for continued growth and profitability,” he said.

While Ford Australia is anticipating a sales growth in 2010 of 15 to 20 percent, it remains to be seen what Ford Australia has planned for new models and updates.

The company's return to profit has been no small feat - and it is always better to be in the black - but, at this point in its product cycle, and with little likelihood of development funds crossing the Pacific for its Australian-market-only models, it will need to see significant profit growth if there is to be any long-term future for its unique Aussie platforms.

Ford Australia has confirmed in the past that it is committed to the Territory until 2016, but it seems clear that at some point, Ford's global 'One Ford' policy will have an impact on the brand's Australian offerings.

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