Opinion: How not to close a tire plant
ERJ staff report (PR)
Birmingham, UK – Goodyear Dunlop has taken heavy flack for its decision to close the Dunlop Motorsport tire plant in, Erdington, Birmingham: the closure on 31 May being described by a local politician as a “day of shame” for the city – and, by inference, the company.
The emotive charge is, basically, that Goodyear Dunlop had decided to pull the plug on the facility after the lease on the 99-year-old property ran out, and that its efforts to keep the plant going were, at best, half-hearted.
The tire maker, however, insists that it had wanted to maintain production there, and made a 10-year offer to stay on this site. Unfortunately, it said, the landlord chose to sell it to a property development company.
Whichever view you take, Goodyear Dunlop’s decision to move production to France and Germany is clearly rooted in the harsh competitive realities of the global tire manufacturing industry.
However, the company did have years to explore all the options for keeping production in Birmingham, so that its final decision on the racing tire operation should have been a clear-cut one.
On that basis, the senior management team’s handling of the 125-year-old Dunlop plant seems more like an object lesson in how not to close a tire plant – and also, perhaps, in how not to rescue one.
Please email your views on this topic to ERJ editor: Patrick Raleigh
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