When John Egan arrived at Jaguar Cars in April 1980, newly appointed as Chief Executive, the company’s very survival was in grave doubt. In fact, the situation looked utterly hopeless.
Not only was the once-proud Jaguar company a part of the catastrophic British Leyland conglomerate but he was greeted at the gates by the workforce – on strike!
The odds against saving Jaguar were immense. Quality was appalling, the workforce bitter, the management disillusioned and any profits had been sucked out by BL to stem its mounting losses. The Labour Government had introduced the ‘closed shop’, giving the unions and their despotic militant shop stewards immense power.
This book tells the story of how John Egan gradually overcame the odds and, piece by piece, rebuilt this great company, winning over the workforce, the overseas dealers and, most important of all, the customers. Working with Margaret Thatcher and her Government, Egan and his team of managers overcame every obstacle, every set-back, every challenge.
Again and again, it looked impossible. Yet using innovative techniques, intelligence, eloquence, openness, motor racing and much more, they saved this most charismatic company which has created some of the finest and most loved motor cars of all time.
It is an amazing story that will appeal equally to car enthusiasts, those in business and readers interested in social history.
Sir John Egan has enjoyed a long and highly distinguished business career. After studying petroleum engineering at Imperial College, he was employed by Shell in the Middle East. Following time at London Business School, he joined AC Delco, a General Motors company. He then moved to British Leyland where he helped to set up and ran Unipart, a uniquely successful operation within BL. Four years with Massey-Ferguson in Canada followed before Sir Michael Edwardes encouraged him back to Coventry to try and save Jaguar. Ten years later, he reluctantly sold the company to Ford but achieved a price of £1.6bn ($2.5bn). He was Chief Executive of British Airports Authority from 1990 until 1999 and headed up the construction industry task force, producing the Egan Report, Rethinking Construction, in 1998 and Accelerating Change in 2002. He served as President of the CBI from that date until 2004 when he became Chairman of Severn Trent. Among many other roles, he was Chairman of Inchcape plc, Chairman, and later President, of the London Tourist Board, President of the Institute of Management and is Chancellor of Coventry University. He was knighted in 1986.