Ron Shield: An update on Cooper Avon
Avon has been under the ownership of Cooper Tire for several years and under pressure to survive as a stand-alone unit within the company. In today’s climate, where tyre manufacturers are shifting production to low labour cost centres, the continued survival and profitability of Avon is a source of considerable pride in Melksham, home of Avon Tyres, and a puzzle to other manufacturers who struggle to make European plants, in particular UK-based plants, contribute to profits.The task of turning Avon into a net contributor to Cooper Tire was one that required some hard decisions being made.
Cooper wanted to add value to the business and took on various issues at Avon. The choices taken meant that people suffered but there was also a lack of resources. The Cooper take-over was not simply a case of cutting costs by laying off staff.
There was a tremendous investment in resources and equipment. A great deal of funding was spent on the business, and not just on plant. In all some 60 million pounds has been invested at Melksham.
That was six years ago and Cooper Avon is a very different business now, from what it was even two years ago.Ron Shield, managing director at Avon, says, “The first two years were spent putting the business in order. We are now starting to get closer to where we need to be.
Last year was our most successful year ever. We are starting to show Cooper that we are a positive contributor to the business.” .