• Bridgestone Southern Africa will close the Port Elizabeth plant after 84 years.
• The company produce the bias tyre which is no longer in demand.
• 252 employees will be affected by the closure of the plant.
Bridgestone Southern Africa (BSAF) has announced its proposal to close its bias tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth.
The company's Brits plant in the North West will continue to operate. The PE plant is specifically geared towards the production of older bias tyres, which are globally in decline and being phased out in the country as it is an unprofitable market.
BSAF initiated a Section 189 notice and a consultative process in compliance with the South African Labour Relations Act on Friday, 21 August. 252 employees are affected.
Global decline in bias tyres
The company says it has come under pressure due to a variety of economic conditions and industry factors. The effects of a shrinking economy and an influx of cheap imports compounded by rapid changes in the tyre industry has prompted BSAF to restructure its operations.
The agricultural industry is shifting to radial tyres, which are longer lasting, and the production of which is modern and high-speed.
"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 BSAF," says Jacques Fourie, BSAF Chief Executive.
"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 adds.
The company says it remains "fully committed" to its business in Southern Africa and its Brits manufacturing facility which continues to produce radial tyres for OEMs and customers.
Image: South Africa Tyre Manufacturers Conference