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Airbus reshuffles supply chain management amid delays

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By Reuters
Airbus reshuffles supply chain management amid delays
FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is pictured at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo   -   Copyright  Regis Duvignau(Reuters)

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus is overhauling the management of its supply chain and speeding up assembly at a plant in China as it faces ongoing industrial problems at home in Germany, industry sources said.

Staff have been told that Klaus Richter, chief procurement officer, is stepping down from his post at the Franco-German-led company to “pursue other professional challenges,” they said.

The former BMW supply chain leader, who was credited with introducing carmaking strategies, will be replaced on an interim basis by the company’s operational head in China, Francois Mery.

Airbus <AIR.PA> declined to comment.

Richter, a former potential CEO candidate who was said by industry sources to have uneasy relations with then helicopters boss Guillaume Faury after his procurement role expanded to include the whole group in 2017, had seen his duties gradually reduced since Faury became CEO in April.

His exit coincides with ongoing industrial problems at a plant in Germany that is responsible for a new high-capacity version of the fast-selling A321neo.

Aircraft buyers at back-to-back conferences in Hong Kong said deliveries of the 240-seat A321ACF are six months late.

The European company has been shielded from cancellations by the grounding of Boeing’s <BA.N> rival 737 MAX but the delays could open the door to compensation, delegates told Reuters at the Airline Economics and Airfinance Journal events.

Airbus last week cut its 2019 delivery goal by 2-3% to 860 jets, but kept profitability targets. It may bring forward some deliveries of high-margin wide-body jets to protect profits.

On Wednesday, Airbus also brought forward plans to speed up a Chinese assembly plant, saying it would boost output there from four to six jets a month by end-2019 instead of early 2020.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Edmund Blair and Alexandra Hudson)