ABC Companies responds to Van Hool’s plans to streamline manufacturing

ABC Companies reached out to clients today to assure them that plans by Van Hool to further streamline manufacturing capabilities won’t have an impact on their access to vehicles or service.

The Belgium bus manufacturer announced today it will be discontinuing motorcoach manufacturing operations at its Koningshooikt facility in Belgium, shifting those activities to its growing manufacturing capabilities at its facility in the Republic of North Macedonia.

Roman Cornell

“The U.S. and Canadian markets serviced by ABC Companies have been supplied from the Macedonia facility since 2014, and therefore, will not see a change. ABC and most importantly, you, our customers, will continue to benefit from this consolidation of global production activities into the Macedonia facility,” ABC Companies CEO Roman Cornell wrote in a letter to customers. 

He also said that Van Hool’s decision will enhance the quality, innovation, and reliability that has been the hallmark of the Van Hool brand for 75 years. 

“ABC Companies and the Cornell family fully support this decision and will be working closely with the leadership at Van Hool to ensure a seamless transition,” Cornell wrote. “While production for global markets will be shifting to the Macedonia facility, many key operations will remain at the Koningshooikt location. 

“We are confident this restructuring will further enhance Van Hool’s capabilities and service to their global markets. We look forward to our continued partnership with Van Hool and a truly bright future.”

Narrowing its focus

Van Hool, in its news release, said it planned to refocus its activities towards market segments where customers consciously choose the high quality of Van Hool products.

“The implementation of the Van Hool Recovery Plan is designed to enable a sustainable future under its own steam for the company. Unfortunately, the intention to refocus also entails difficult interventions,” the company noted.

ABC Companies

That plan involves reducing its Belgium workforce by 1,100 employees over the next three years.

“We understand the impact this plan will have on employees and their families, and it is hard for us to take this step,” Van Hool Co-CEO Marc Zwaaneveld said in a statement. “However, given the highly pressing situation the company finds itself in, it is truly necessary to take these measures to secure a sustainable future for Van Hool. With this recovery plan, Van Hool remains a meaningful employer in Flanders.”

Most of the downsizing, 830 layoffs, will take place this year. Employee representatives are invited to participate in the upcoming information and consultation rounds. 

The company attributed its challenging financial conditions to several factors, including the impact of the pandemic, high energy costs, high inflation and global component supply problems. 

Van Hool indicated that going forward it will be more selective “in accepting new orders from public transport.”

Production of buses and coaches would mainly take place at the plant in Skopje, in North Macedonia. In Koningshooikt, the industrial vehicles division would focus on semi-trailers requiring a higher degree of expertise and offering higher added value for the customer as well as for Van Hool. The bus and coach division would keep its knowledge center, research and development, prototype building and after-sales in Koningshooikt.

Van Hool is an independent Belgian manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, based in Koningshooikt. The company was founded in 1947. The vast majority of its production is destined for Europe and North America. Van Hool has around 4,100 employees worldwide, most of them at the production sites in Koningshooikt and Skopje.


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