Bridgestone Reports Fire at its Largest Plant
Reuters news agency is reporting that there has been a fire a Bridgestone’s largest tyre factory. The news of the blaze comes less that a year after a huge fire at the Tochigi factory north of Tokyo dealt a significant blow to the firm’s earnings.
The fire, which broke out in the plant’s rubber-mixing area at around 2:22pm Friday 20 August was contained two hours after it started, but left 13 employees suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire, at the Amagi plant in Fukuoka, southern Japan, and any impact to its earnings are as yet unknown, Japan’s top tyre maker said. Work has been halted in all areas of the plant, and it was unclear when production would restart. The factory, which has a workforce of 730, is usually operational 24 hours a day.
The financial consequences of the fire are expected to be limited.
The Amagi plant, which makes truck and bus tyres for the domestic and overseas markets, has a daily production capacity of 12,000 tyres and is Japan’s biggest in terms of output volume. This part of the business accounts for 6 per cent of the company’s total production, which equates to 100 billion yen (£500 million) of annual sales.
Bridgestone has yet to recover fully from another fire that burned for two days last September at its Tochigi plant, destroying more than 100,000 tyres and forcing the closure of the rubber-mixing area for almost a year.
The facility was reopened in July, two months ahead of schedule, but production at the plant is still not back to 100 per cent. This month executive apologised again for accident as Bridgestone announced solid interim results and lifted its 2004 profit forecasts on the back of brisk tyre sales abroad.
In 2003, the Tochigi fire shaved 10 billion yen (£50 million) from Bridgestone’s pre-tax profit as it forced the company to transport material from other plants and import tyres from overseas to ensure a smooth flow of supply to its customers. Shares in Bridgestone ended up 0.48 per cent at 2,075 yen before news of the fire surfaced.