The president of the Hauts-de-France region has labelled Bridgestone’s planned closure of its Béthune tyre manufacturing plant “brutal” and a “premeditated assassination.” For good measure, Xavier Bertrand added “we are dealing with cynics and liars” in his strongly-worded response to Bridgestone’s announcement. In a joint statement with the French government, Bertrand’s Hauts-de-France Region called on the Bridgestone group to “assume its responsibilities,” alleging that the company’s divestment from and allocation of low-margin tyres to the Béthune plant over the last decade has “automatically” led to its deficit in competitiveness.
Bridgestone has announced its plan to close its Bethune plant in France. The manufacturer said that the measure is being used to reduce production overcapacity and to improve cost efficiency. The proposal could impact 863 employees. Bridgestone added that it is “fully aware of the social consequences of this project and is committed to using all means at its disposal to define support plans for each employee.” The earliest the closure would take place is the second quarter of 2021. Bridgestone’s presence in France would continue through sales and retail operations, in which it employs about 3,500, the company said.
France’s government has launched a national hydrogen strategy valued at seven billion euros, and aims to build up capacity for hydrogen from non-fossil sources by 2030. Michelin applauds this step and has reiterated its commitment to its own goals in this field. The company says its work here will mean a “significant share” of its business will be non-tyre related in a decade’s time. Fabio Ferrari, co-founder of Symbio, is tasked with leading the development of Michelin’s Hydrogen Mobility strategy and supporting its deployment.
The newly created network will be made up of 160 Bridgestone locations, 240 franchisees and at least eight resale platforms. Bridgestone acquired Ayme & Fils in 2017 and has also been active in France with the Speedy autocentre/fast-fit business since 2016.
Ligue de Football Professionel (LFP), the body which governs the French football leagues, officially presented the new identity of the 2020/21 Ligue 2 season this month. And, from 1 July 2020 it will be called Ligue 2 BKT. The title sponsorship agreement runs through to June 2024.
Alejandro Recasens has joined Apollo Vredestein as Cluster Director South-West, responsible for Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Having had a successful career with Pirelli Tyres spanning two decades, Recasens is now spearheading Apollo Vredestein’s plans for growth in the markets of southwestern Europe.
eBay France has partnered with the 350-branch strong Feu Vert garage network to fit tyres purchased online. The development was hinted at last year’s Equip Auto show when the head of spare parts and accessories for cars and motorcycles in the French, Spanish and Italian markets, Francesco Faà di Bruno, announced that negotiations were underway. Now, Ebay has confirmed, the agreement is final.
For the three national markets of France, Italy and Spain, combined new light vehicle sales fell by 55 per cent on last year to 268,000 in May, which compares with a 75 per cent drop in March and a 93 per cent decline in April. This represents a slightly better scenario than had been anticipated, as Calum MacRae, automotive analyst at GlobalData, explains: “After the seized up and locked down markets of March and April, this is a welcome sign of life in markets that were the first in Europe to be engulfed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Goodyear management has been convicted by the Amiens court for the unfair dismissal of 832 of its former employees. The manufacturer’s factory in Amiens Nord, France, which specialised in the production of agricultural tyres, closed in January 2014. The closure brought to an end a six-year stalemate between staff and management, with the loss of 1,143 jobs. The Thursday May 28 judgement saw the court ask for the provisional execution of the sentence, as requested by the employee’s lawyer, Fiodor Rilov. The amount of damages to be paid is not yet available. Goodyear management has indicated that it has taken note of the ruling, adding that it reserves “the right to appeal.”
With coronavirus having hit mass-gatherings most of all, trade shows and exhibitions have felt negative pressure more than most segments. Following a run of cancellations and postponements the organisers of the Paris motor show, Equipe Auto, are hinting that they are considering a “change in positioning”. Details, however, were elusive. The next Equipe Auto is schedule for 12-16 October 2021.
Bridgestone EMIA has resumed production at its European manufacturing plants in Bari (Italy) and Lanklaar (Belgium). The Béthune (France) plant will reopen tomorrow, 21 April 2020. This follows the 14 April news that production in all Bridgestone plants located in Spain (Burgos, Bilbao and Puente San Miguel) and Russia (Ulyanovsk) had recommenced. Today’s announcement means that Bridgestone EMIA’s full manufacturing network has restarted production with the exception of its Indian and South African plants, which remain closed for now.
The next SIMA agricultural trade show will take place in February 2021 rather than in November 2020, as originally planned. The organisers rescheduled the Paris-based fair to 21-25 February 2021 “at the request of a large number of exhibitors and organisations from the agricultural machinery industry whose production and distribution activities have been hit hard by today’s public health and economic crisis.”
Michelin has been working with other companies to produce a new type of reusable face mask for use in the COVID-19 pandemic. The tyre maker adds that this OCOV mask, developed within a matter of weeks, is affordable, sustainable and can be produced in large quantities.
Bridgestone EMIA will either temporarily close or reduce production plants across its European manufacturing network in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its Béthune plant in France and the Bari plant in Italy will be closed until 6 April.