Council hopes Apollo deal will lead to Melksham investment
Melksham Town Council has welcomed Apollo Tyres’ acquisition of Cooper Tire & Rubber. Melksham north ward councillor Pam Wiltshire told local newspaper the Wiltshire Times that “obviously it’s a really good thing for the town, because there have been concerns in the past with what might happen.”
In recent years several cutbacks have been made at the Melksham plant, which Cooper Tire & Rubber took over upon acquiring Avon Tyres from Avon Rubber plc in 1997. In September 2009, Cooper announced realignment plans that saw some Melksham tyre production transferred to China and 20 per cent of the 1,000 plus Melksham workforce laid off, a decision said to have reduced the factory workforce’s morale to an “all-time low”. Last September, a further 50 Melksham redundancies were implemented in response to “difficult market conditions in Europe”.
Wiltshire and other Melksham councillors have been buoyed by the open letter sent by the heads of both Apollo and Cooper, which stated the two tyre makers “are complementary businesses with almost no geographic overlap. We intend to retain existing facilities.
“We also intend to maintain the networks and workforces Cooper already has in place, and to grow the existing facilities to meet the expanding needs of the newly combined company,” the letter continued. “Cooper will continue to recognise the labour unions and honour the terms of the collective bargaining agreements presently in effect and will generally maintain compensation and benefit levels for non-union employees.”
Cooper Tire’s relationship with Melksham, through the Avon brand, dates back to 1890 when the Avon India Rubber Company Limited was set up in the town. The first products manufactured by the 24 person workforce in Melksham were solid rubber tyres, conveyer belts and rubber components for use on the railways. Pam Wiltshire commented: “It’s one of the longest-serving employers in the town, and has been through a lot of ups and downs over the years which must create a lot of concern among the workforce, but hopefully this means longer-term investment for the town, which we welcome.”