Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has submitted a Section 189 proposal for the closure of its plant in Port Elizabeth due to not only financial constraints and rise of cheaper brands, but also the decline of older bias rubber internationally and across South Africa.
In a statement, the Japanese brand the decision to close the plant, which employs 252 people, has taken after careful consideration, adding that while ways and methods have been explored in recent years to prevent its doors from closing, “the current market dynamics make it extremely challenging to find a longer-term sustainable solution”.
“The bias industrial and off-the-road tyres manufactured at the Port Elizabeth plant which have since been trumped by a growing trend in the production of radial tyres globally, has meant a steady decline in market demand over the years, eroding profitability for Bridgestone Southern Africa,” company CEO Jacques Fourie said.
“All these technical and economic factors combined have created an environment in which the PE factory is unable to continue running, despite all efforts to sustain the operation. To preserve the competitiveness of BSAF and a sustainable future for its employees, partners and stakeholders, the proposed closure of the PE plant is the only viable option”.
He added that the company will comply with all the necessary regulations and requirements in order to accommodate the affected employees, saying, “we realise the impact the project will have on the personal lives of PE employees and we are committed to mitigate the impact of the proposed closure. Fair severance packages will be provided and where possible, skills will be redeployed”.
The plant in Brits meanwhile, which also produces radial tyres for the local market, won’t be affected and will continue to operate as is.