Brussels – Bridgestone Southern Africa (BSAF) is to close its 252-employee, bias-tire manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the company announced 20 Aug.
The proposed move, it said, is in-line with parent group Bridgestone Corp.'s recently unveiled strategy to strengthen its core tire business through focus on premium, profitable growth segments.
As part of the closure process, BSAF has initiated a ‘section 189’ notice and a consultative process in compliance with South African employment regulations.
Bridgestone’s Port Elizabeth plant produces 'unprofitable' bias tires, which are globally in decline and being phased out in South Africa, the company explained.
The closure was also linked to the “effects of a shrinking economy and an influx of cheap imports compounded by rapid changes in the tire industry.
“The agricultural industry is shifting to radial tyres, which are longer lasting, and the production of which is modern and high-speed.”
Investment in a completely new radial tires plant would not be feasible in the current economic climate, BSAF further stated.
“All these technical and economic factors combined have created an environment in which the [Port Elizabeth] factory is unable to continue running, despite all efforts to sustain the operation,” said chief executive Jacques Fourie.
To preserve the competitiveness of BSAF and a sustainable future for its employees, partners and stakeholders, the proposed closure of the PE plant is the only viable option,” the BSAF leader added.