Van Hool Outlines Restructuring Plan Amidst Economic Challenges

Van Hool, the long-established independent manufacturer of buses, coaches, and industrial vehicles, has unveiled its Van Hool Recovery Plan during a specially convened council. The announcement detailed a strategic pivot towards market segments that recognize and value the high-quality offerings of Van Hool products.

The Recovery Plan is a response to the urgent necessity for Van Hool to ensure its continuity and operate sustainably on its own accord. This refocusing strategy will necessitate the implementation of stringent measures, including a significant realignment of the organisation’s structure, working methodology, and workforce at the Koningshooikt facility.

Co-CEO Marc Zwaaneveld addressed the implications of the plan: “The decision to implement this plan weighs heavily upon us, especially considering its impact on our dedicated employees and their families. Yet, facing the acute fiscal challenges before us, these steps are indispensable for the long-term viability of Van Hool.”

Approximately 1,100 employees are projected to exit the company between 2024 and 2027, with the initial phase accounting for around 830 departures through various means, including redundancies, early retirement schemes, and natural attrition. In the following years, we will see a smaller, though no less significant, number of 50 planned departures annually. By 2027, an additional 220 employees are expected to leave. Despite the reductions, the company anticipates maintaining direct employment for about 1,400 individuals, with an extended impact on nearly 3,000 jobs indirectly, primarily within the local economy.

Employee representatives will be engaged in subsequent information and consultation processes as the details of the plan are further developed.

The Recovery Plan stems from the need to navigate a confluence of adverse economic conditions that have afflicted Van Hool, including the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, soaring energy costs, rampant inflation, and global supply disruptions. Management is resolute in implementing the Recovery Plan to steer Van Hool back to financial stability.

Concurrently, Van Hool will initiate dialogue with its public transport market clientele to elucidate the ramifications of its operational realignment, signalling a more judicious approach to accepting new orders.

Manufacturing efforts will be geographically redistributed, with the primary production of buses and coaches transitioning to the Skopje plant in Northern Macedonia. The Koningshooikt site will retain its Industrial Vehicles division, focusing on products that demand greater expertise and provide superior value for the company. Moreover, the Koningshooikt facility will continue to house the Bus & Coach division’s knowledge centre, research and development, prototype construction, and after-sales services.

Established in 1947, Van Hool has a significant presence in Europe and North America, currently employing approximately 4,100 individuals globally. The current restructuring is a pivotal moment for the firm as it seeks to adapt to the ever-evolving economic landscape and maintain its status as a leading manufacturer in the transportation sector.


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