Following a consultation with workers and unions, Bridgestone South Africa (BSAF) says it has finalized the process to close down its agri tire manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. In August, the company announced a proposal to close the Port Elizabeth facility. The plant’s last day of operation will be November 15.
Jacques Fourie, BSAF chief executive, explained, “The proposal to close the plant was not taken lightly and the impact on employees has been taken into account from the outset. We endeavored to treat employees with the utmost compassion and fairness to support them through the change, while adhering to all legal requirements and due diligence.”
BSAF notes that recent years have seen its financial performance come under pressure as it was hard-hit by a variety of economic conditions and industry factors. Chief among these industry changes was the bias industrial and off-the-road tires manufactured at the Port Elizabeth plant being phased out in the market, as a result of a growing trend in the production and use of radial tires globally.
“The unfortunate reality is that the plant is simply unable to produce the radial tire that industry is rapidly moving towards,” noted Fourie. “Upgrading the factory to produce radial tires would have necessitated an investment in a completely new multibillion-rand plant, which is not feasible or justifiable under any circumstances, especially in the current economy.”
The company says that concerted efforts to keep the plant going, including the sale of the factory to investors, were unsuccessful and the plant was unable to continue running, a decision that company directors say they only took after exhausting all alternative options.