JAPANESE car maker Nissan has blamed weak demand in Europe, China and the US for a big fall in third-quarter profits.
The Japanese company, which employs more than 6,000 people in Sunderland, saw profit fall to £371m in the October to December period – down 35% from a year earlier.
Sales in the quarter dropped 5.3% to £1.5bn, with sales in its biggest market, China, down 31.3%.
The company’s sales in China have been hit by a territorial dispute between Japan and China which affected sales of Japanese products.
Meanwhile, the downturn in the European economy means all car makers have suffered from poor sales there.
Chief executive Carlos Ghosn said: “Nissan’s performance in the third quarter did not meet our expectations. This was primarily the result of difficult conditions in Europe for the entire auto industry, in China for Japanese auto makers, and in the US for Nissan.”
But the weakening of the yen should help Japanese companies looking to export. The currency has lost around 20% of its value against the dollar since October.
Ghosn added: “We have taken action to reignite our sales momentum and growth.”
A major problem for Nissan has been manufacturing in its key market of the US, where it was plagued by production problems involving new models.
Although Nissan increased sales in the US by 8.2% to 819,000 units in the third quarter, this was below the overall market increase of 13.4%, and Nissan’s market share fell from 7.8% to 7.4%.
In China, Nissan was affected by the riots and boycott stemming from the bilateral dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea, which slashed sales of Japanese products.