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No trouble in paradise? Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

No trouble in paradise?
Ferrari issues a swift riposte to rumours it's in the financial mire.
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In a brilliant perpetuation of the hot-headed, argumentative Italian stereotype, Ferrari has issued a direct retort to a story that surfaced this week claiming that it was having a spot of money trouble.

Not true, Ferrari says. So there. The rumour asserted that 300 staff at the Maranello production plant were to be laid off as early as Friday 12th December, and came after it was discovered the factory will be closed from 19th December to 7th January - far longer than its usual Christmas break. Similarly extended plant closures were being announced left, right and centre by other makers earlier this year as they tightened their belts to stave off the economic crisis.

So a bit of smoke came out of Maranello and we all screamed "fire!" according to Ferrari. Actually, it seems, the smoke was more likely emanating from the burning tips of Ferrari's celebratory cigars - for, unlike everyone else, the firm is apparently in rude health. The closure is nothing more than a benevolent gesture, we're told, made to allow workers from outside Maranello longer to see their families - and something else about the way weekends fall over the New Year period.

And Ferrari categorically denies the layoffs, claiming 2008 has been a better year than 2007. This, however, comes after a Ferrari spokesman said it was "reviewing the people on one year contracts" in meetings with the workers' union, as well as "closely examining the consultancies and advisors and that kind of spending."

It seems, though, that Ferrari is none-too-happy with the spokesman in question, who doesn't appear to be towing the official company line. Time will tell what the real story is - the maker's annual review meeting between management and the trade union takes place on December 17th, so we'll hear more then.

But we've no reason to dispute Ferrari's arm-waving denial - it's hardly likely to repudiate something so strenuously then go ahead and sack 300 people anyway, is it? Still, Ferrari sold a measly 92 cars in November, against a backdrop of around 600 per month on average. It could be a blip, but an 85 percent sales drop is a quite significant one, even if it is only a single month's figures.

And an interesting dichotomy has seemingly developed at Ferrari, because while the maker still enjoys waiting lists of up to two years for some of its cars, some UK dealers have developed a backlog of unsold stock. "It's a market where we have some problems," said the rogue spokesman.

So in conclusion, Ferrari is not about to lay off any staff (apart from one spokesman, possibly) but it seems to be struggling to sell cars at the moment, which isn't that surprising. And to quote Ferrari's Communications Director Stefano Lai, who probably is towing the company line: "Our forecasts for 2009 are positive because our business model is based on exclusivity and the renewal of the range. Though, of course, we will be keeping a close eye on the markets and on costs too."

Which loosely translated means that because Ferrari sells really expensive cars it doesn't have to sell that many, and it can make new ones quicker than most other makers - so if things start going pear-shaped it'll make a diesel-hybrid 4x4 crossover next year. Or something like that.

Mark Nichol - 11 Dec 2008

2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.

2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Image by Ferrari.    - Ferrari road tests
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