A BUSINESS with more than 2,500 staff is set to cut jobs after its profits were slashed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ricardo could axe about 50 staff as it looks to make the business “fit for future growth”.

The engineering and environmental consultancy has close to 700 employees at its Shoreham Technical Centre headquarters in Old Shoreham Road.

The news of the potential job cuts follows the company’s profits being dented by the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The company’s chief executive, Dave Shemmans, said: “The coronavirus outbreak at the start of H2 (the second half of the financial year) has already had an operationally disruptive impact on our automotive and rail operations in China and we anticipate continuing disruption to client engagement, project delivery and business development in the coming months in mainland China and surrounding countries.

“Based on the issues highlighted above, we are anticipating material impact to our forecast second half profits and thus full year.”

The report details that, in response to the virus, the company temporarily closed its sites in China, with the majority of the company’s customers in the country also closing their sites.

Its Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong offices reopened on February 24.

The closures caused a “slowing down in both order intake and the progress of ongoing projects”.

A spokesman for the company said it “anticipates the impact to our second half profits will be material”.

Yesterday, the company confirmed it was considering cutting jobs across its UK and Europe offices.

A spokesman said: “As we seek to align our services and resources to meet customer needs and deliver growth, we have begun a period of consultation which will consider the possible reduction in size of some of our engineering and business support teams in the UK and mainland Europe by approximately 50.

“These changes are about helping us to meet our strategy; it is not about downsizing our business – it is about making our business fit for future growth. The changes will allow us to invest in our people, our facilities and our capabilities, with customers starting to see real benefits in the near future.Until the consultation is completed, we will not be making any final decisions, and we will be actively supporting our people during this process.”

He added that “the effect of the spread of Covid-19 on the potential future demand for automotive business is of course one of a number of factors that would be considered in reviewing operations.”

On the distribution of the job cuts, the spokesman said: “We need to complete the strategic review before being able to accurately determine on which site the redundancies will be made.

“But this is expected to spread evenly between sites.”