LONDON -- Aston Martin, maker of James Bond's luxury sports car, said Monday that it is laying off as much as a third of its work force because of falling sales during the economic slump.

The cuts involve a mix of full-time and temporary jobs at its plant in Gaydon in western England.

"It is hoped to do this by minimizing the impact on employees as far as possible, but the possibility of up to 300 permanent and a similar number of temporary job losses cannot be ruled out," the company said in a statement. It now employs 1,700 people in Britain.

Aston Martin sold 110 cars in Britain in October compared with 164 in the same month last year. Total annual sales are expected to drop to 6,500 this year compared to 7,300 this year.

The company's sticker price for its cheapest Vantage model is 83,000 pounds ($128,000) and prices run as high as 162,500 pounds ($250,000) for the DBS, the car featured in the latest James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace."

"Like other premium car brands, Aston Martin has been forced to take action to respond to the unprecedented downturn in the global economy. These are regrettable but necessary measures in the extraordinary market conditions we all now face," said chief executive Ulrich Bez.

"Overall, we remain confident that the Aston Martin brand is the strongest it has ever been: with dedicated design, engineering and manufacturing facilities and an award-winning product range, we remain well positioned for the upturn in the economy."

The Unite union said it would oppose compulsory layoffs but would work with the company to achieve voluntary departures.

"In the current climate, this is not surprising but we are extremely disappointed" said Dave Osborne, a national officer for the union.
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