Bridgestone closing South Africa agri tyre plant this month
Following consultations with workers and unions, Bridgestone South Africa (BSAF) has finalised the process to close down its tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. The plant’s last day of operation will be 15 November. Bridgestone announced its intention to close the facility in August.
“The proposal to close the plant was not taken lightly and the impact on employees has been taken into account from the outset,” says Jacques Fourie, BSAF chief executive. “We endeavoured to treat employees with the utmost compassion and fairness to support them through the change, while adhering to all legal requirements and due diligence.”
Bridgestone shares that BSAF has seen its financial performance come under pressure in recent years, hard-hit by a variety of economic conditions and industry factors. Chief among these industry changes was the market’s shift from cross-ply industrial and off-the-road tyres – products made in the Port Elizabeth plant – to radials.
“The unfortunate reality is that the plant is simply unable to produce the radial tyre that industry is rapidly moving towards,” comments Fourie. “Upgrading the factory to produce radial tyres would have necessitated an investment in a completely new multibillion-rand plant (£1 = 20.9 rand), which is not feasible or justifiable under any circumstances, especially in the current economy.”
Bridgestone says it made “concerted efforts to keep the plant going,” efforts that included an attempt to sell the factory to investors. “All these were unsuccessful and the plant was unable to continue running, a decision that company directors say they only took after exhausting all alternative options,” reports Bridgestone.
BSAF continues to operate its Brits factory northwest of Pretoria.