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.
Employees at Continental AG’s Aachen, Germany tyre factory were informed that the plant will be closed by the end of 2021. According to the German Handelsblatt newspapter, more than 1,800 employees will be affected by the closure. The announcement comes two weeks after Continental announced cost-cutting plans aiming at saving 1 billion euros by 2023.
Car industry analysts have outlined the compound challenge facing the UK’s car sector following the publication of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ half-year figures. The stats show that the first half of 2020 yielded the lowest level of UK car manufacturing since the 1950s. Edwin Kemp, head of automotive strategy at KPMG, commented that the SMMT’s June 2020 new car manufacturing analysis is a harbinger for businesses’ likely descent into insolvency throughout the automotive supply chain. Peter Barnes, head of automotive at global legal business, DWF, added that the challenges facing the UK automotive industry add up to a perfect storm for the sector.
UK car manufacturing output declined -48.2 per cent in June, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders figures reveal. Only 56,594 units were produced in the month. The SMMT revealed that the 381,357 cars produced in the first half of 2020 represent the weakest six months of UK manufacturing since 1954. This is -42.8 per cent down on 2019’s first half, with more than 285,000 units fewer produced. 11,349 jobs have been lost across manufacturing and retail during the pandemic. The SMMT warns that the fear of Brexit tariffs could endanger more jobs without dedicated restart support. The society called for greater urgency in talks to secure an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union. Its latest survey data shows nine in 10 firms are missing clarity of information to allow them to prepare for the end of the transition to the new ongoing relationship between the UK and EU.
TPMS sensor manufacturer Sensata Technologies is cutting 160 jobs in the town of Antrim, Northern Ireland. The news follows Sensata’s decision to close its Carrickfergus, County Antrim operation in January 2020. And this was part of a downward trend that saw the company cut 125 jobs in Carrickfergus in 2018.
With fewer than 20 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, the British automotive industry is urging an end to talk of ‘no deal’ and for all sides to focus energies on an orderly withdrawal to safeguard jobs and the sector’s long-term survival. The call comes as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) publishes the results of a new survey revealing the escalating fears of an industry dependent on free and frictionless trade with the EU.
More than eight per cent of Continental’s current global workforce may be affected by measures introduced over the coming decade to reduce its gross costs by 500 million euros a year from 2023. Continental says up to 20,000 jobs worldwide are expected to be affected by this restructuring programme over the coming ten years; around 15,000 of these by the end of 20
Goodyear is investing 106 million euros (£90.6 million) to modernise two of its tyre plants in Germany. The investment in the Hanau and Fulda facilities will increase their capacities to produce tyres for 17-inch and larger rim diameters; Goodyear Dunlop Tires Germany intends to add an extra 2.5 million units to its annual capacity in this segment. But it isn’t all good news – the company reports that these modernisation measures will lead to the loss of approximately 1,100 jobs.
Following the closure announcement relating to Honda’s Swindon plant as well as the closure and scaling back of production at a number of other automotive factories and their suppliers, Carol Keller, communications director at Ben – the charity and support service for the automotive sector – extended the charity’s offer of help to those affected:
Scotland’s Finance and Economy Secretary, Derek Mackay, held urgent talks yesterday with trade unions and the management of Michelin Tyre Company Ltd. to discuss the future of the Dundee car tyre plant, following confirmation of Michelin’s intention to close the plant by 2020.
An analyst report published by Jefferies International Limited has stated that the closure of Michelin’s Dundee plant “supports [the company’s] intent to accelerate cost savings during 2019-20.” Presenting its nine-month 2018 results in October, Michelin warned that demand had deflated in the car and truck markets and it was revising down its guidance; subsequently Michelin shares fell to a seven-year low.