Porsche to Increase Workforce 24% in Push for Sales Abroad

Jul 01, 2014 10:33 am ET

(Updates with analyst’s comment in seventh paragraph.)

July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Porsche, the maker of the 911 sports car, plans to increase headcount by about 24 percent to underpin its growth ambitions.

The Volkswagen AG unit will hire about 1,000 employees annually over the next five years, primarily outside its home market of Germany, Thomas Edig, Porsche’s head of personnel, said at a press conference today. The workforce totaled 21,100 people worldwide at the end of May.

Porsche’s hiring runs counter to the European auto industry’s reductions in headcount as manufacturers streamline operations following a six-year sales slump. PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-largest carmaker, is seeking to cut 500 jobs at a French factory by offering early-retirement incentives. That’s on top of plans to eliminate 11,200 employees in France.

While still adding jobs, the pace of hiring at Porsche will actually slow as the division balances sales and earnings gains, Edig said. The Stuttgart-based manufacturer, which has brought in about 8,400 more employees since 2010, has a target to sell a record 200,000 cars in 2015 after adding the Macan compact sport-utility vehicle in April. Additional increases may be harder to come by.

“We won’t continue to grow along the lines of the past four years, but we do need to expand on the personnel side,” with new jobs in model development, production, sales and servicing, Edig said at the briefing in Weissach, Germany.

Possible Supercar

The Macan is Porsche’s fifth model, joining the 911 and Boxster sports cars, Cayenne SUV and four-door Panamera coupe in the lineup. Division Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller said in February that Porsche may decide in mid-2014 whether to add a $250,000 supercar to challenge Fiat SpA’s Ferrari brand.

With Porsche’s hiring plans, “the key message is that they expect a significant growth over many years, not just because of the new products -- the Macan -- but also future expansion programs,” Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, said today by phone. “Research and development projects are going beyond Porsche’s own products, covering sports-car projects for the whole group” at Volkswagen.

First-quarter operating profit at Porsche was about 18 percent of sales, and the division was the second-biggest contributor to Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen’s earnings, after the Audi luxury unit.

Porsche’s margin “absolutely remains” targeted at more than 15 percent, Edig said. “That’s a goal we’re sticking to, and we’re not departing from it. And we need to continuously earn that. We don’t want to get fat.”

--With assistance from Mathieu Rosemain in Paris.