PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa – Bridgestone Southern Africa is to close its bias tyre manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth but remains fully committed to its businesselsewhere in southern Africa and its Brits plant will continue to produce radial tyres.
The company employs more than 2000 people.
BSAF has in recent years seen its financial performance come under pressure due to a variety of economic conditions and industry factors, among them falling demand for its main product – older bias tyres – which are no longer in demand in South Afric.
The tyremaker told The Corner in a media release that the effects of a shrinking economy and an influx of cheap imports, compounded by rapid changes in the tyre industry, have prompted BSAF to restructure.
Jacques Fourie, BSAF chief executive, explained: ”The agricultural industry is shifting to longer-lasting, modern, radial tyres. Their production would not be feasible in the current economy.
“The bias industrial and off-road tyres made at the Port Elizabeth plant have been trumped by a growing trend in the production of radials, eroding profitability for BSA. These technical and economic factors combined have created an environment in which the PE factory is unable to continue. Closing the PE plant was the only viable option.
“We realise this will affect the personal lives of PE employees and we are committed to mitigating the effect of the proposed closure. Fair severance packages will be provided and where possible, skills will be redeployed.”