In October 2022, Goodyear announced that the Cooper Tire Europe headquarters and manufacturing operation was set to close around a year later. In November 2023, the land associated with the tyre plant went up for sale in parallel with plans to redevelop the site into residential premises.
In May this year, China’s environmental protection department imposed a penalty on the Cooper Kunshan factory, restricting production on the grounds of violating the “Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law”. At the same time, the tyre manufacturing base was fined 240,000 yuan.
Cooper Tires has entered into partnerships in the United Kingdom with Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team in Yorkshire. Each provides first-response assistance, and Cooper says it is supplying tyres to these organisations to fit vehicles such as the Volvo XC90, BMW X5 or Land Rover Discovery 5 to provide the grip, versatility and durability needed.
TireHub, the US national tyre distributor cofounded by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (Goodyear) and Bridgestone Americas Inc. (Bridgestone), started selling Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels as an authorized national distributor on 1 May. The Mickey Thompson brand specialises in off-road orientated 4×4 products and came to Goodyear in the last couple of years as a result of the company’s acquisition of Cooper.
In April we took an in-depth look at the progress of the Goodyear-Cooper integration, roughly two years after the acquisition was announced (see ‘Mission “successfully completed”? The Goodyear-Cooper integration and its contradictions’, Tyres & Accessories, April 2023). Now, in parallel with the publication of the company’s first-quarter 2023 financial results, executives have sought to answer those questions with the publication of a “Cooper Tire Integration Update” on 4 May 2023. In short, the update states that “the combination has significantly strengthened [Goodyear’s] leadership position in the global tyre industry” and that the “results of the integration were better than expected when the deal closed in June 2021”. However, Goodyear has also been significantly loss-making for the last two quarters and admitted during the first-quarter 2023 results that it is being forced to review its burgeoning brand portfolio in light of its negative fiscal position.
When Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. announced at the end of January that 500 jobs are being cut worldwide and linked this to business performance in the EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) region (see “Goodyear reports losses of $104 million in Q4 2022, points the finger at Europe”, T&A 3/2022, page 18), executives were effectively acknowledging the significant pressures facing the business. When Goodyear published its full-year 2022 and fourth quarter 2022 figures a few days later, the red numbers highlighted the pressing reality of those problems. Within that broad picture, it now seems clear that the US$2.8 billion Cooper takeover initiated two years ago has not yet brought the promised return, something Goodyear’s market capitalisation and the relative profitability of its competitors neatly illustrate. Meanwhile, some within Goodyer refer to the integration as “successfully completed”, but without offering details. In other words, the supposed success of the Goodyear-Cooper integration doesn’t match the company’s sub-par financial performance. With that in mind, here we take a pan-European look at those particularly contradictory perspectives.
Goodyear is investing US$200 million (about 1.37 billion yuan, £170 million, 190 million euros) in its Cooper Kun Shan tyre factory. Following the latest investment, the total investment of the Cooper Kun Shan plant is expected to reach $500 million (about 3.42 billion yuan, £410 million, 470 million euros).
Wiltshire politicians and Unite union representatives have reacted to the news that Cooper Tire plans to end tyre production at its Melksham plant by the end of 2023. Speaking to local news source, the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, Michelle Donelan, MP for Chippenham, offered her support to workers, while Melksham’s mayor emphasised the longevity and importance of the manufacturing site in the town’s history. With the plant’s 350-strong workforce represented by Unite, union leader Tony Hulbert railed against the timing of the announcement, given the UK’s spiralling cost-of-living crisis.
Following the news that it is consulting on the closure of the Cooper Melksham tyre factory, Goodyear has announced that it is set to invest 16.5 million euros into the “modernisation” of its Montluçon, France tyre production plant over the next 18 months. The news also marks the end of light truck tyre production at Montluçon. Prior to the announcement, the production of two-wheel tyres accounted for 50 per cent of the site’s activity and the site has also made motorsport tyres during its recent history.
The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe plans to close its UK tyre manufacturing plant in Melksham, Wiltshire by the end of 2023. The company will now begin a consultation process on the proposed closure involving 350 Cooper employees and the relevant employee representative bodies. Previous cutbacks at Cooper’s Melksham plant, one of the few new tyre producers remaining in the UK, were announced in 2018. Car and SUV tyre manufacturing were moved to newer facilities in the company’s manufacturing footprint, such as its plant in Serbia. The remaining functions of the site were the production of motorsport and motorcycle tyres, as well as the company’s Europe headquarters and Technical Center. The merger of Cooper and its new parent company The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was finalised in June 2021 following the announcement of its acquisition in February. Goodyear approved a plan to streamline its global administrative structure in the second quarter of 2022.
Cooper Tires says it is “excited” to continue its partnership as the exclusive supplier for the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2022. The championship returns this season with a major difference – the cars are now fully electric – and Cooper Tires has collaborated with the championship and teams to develop a standard tyre that “not only performs well across tarmac and gravel but is also suited to the unique demands of a high-performance electric powertrain.”
Cooper Tire Europe has launched a new product for van drivers. Called the Cooper Evolution Van All Season, the tyre is approved for year-round usage in countries with seasonal tyre regulations and bears the 3PMSF snowflake within a three-peaked mountain logo on the sidewall as evidence of this.
The completion of Goodyear’s takeover of Cooper on 7 June this year brought with it the first indications of the scale of Cooper’s sales in the Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market. Before that point, Cooper only reported sales figures for their “International Tire Operations”, which includes sales generated worldwide outside EMEA.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has published figures that show its third-quarter 2021 sales were $4.9 billion, up 42 per cent compared with a year ago. Of course, much of this increase was driven by the company’s acquisition of Cooper Tire, but growth still came in at 16 per cent with the benefits of the Cooper merger excluded. At the same time, Goodyear executives also reported that the company now expects circa 50 per cent greater Cooper merger-related synergies than before. Specifically, this means a benefit of $250 million in run-rate synergies by mid-2023 up from an initial forecast of $165 million. And what’s more, the company expects to realize approximately $20 million of these savings in 2021. No estimates for 2022 synergies are being released until at least the end of 2021 and more likely February 2022 when full-year 2021 data has been processed.