SOUTH AFRICA – Bridgestone South Africa (BSAF) has announced in a statement that it has “finalised the process” to shut down the manufacturing facility, with the plant’s last day of operation being November 15 this year.

The move follows a consultation process with 252 affected workers and unions first announced in August.

“The proposal to close the plant was not taken lightly and the impact on employees has been taken into account from the outset,” Jacques Fourie, BSAF chief executive exlained.

“We endeavoured to treat employees with the utmost compassion and fairness to support them through the change, while adhering to all legal requirements and due diligence,” he said.

According to BSAF, the group has in recent years seen its financial performance come under pressure, hard-hit by a variety of economic conditions and industry factors.

“Chief among these industry changes was the bias industrial and off-the-road tyres 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 tyres globally,” it said.

Fourie added that “The unfortunate reality is that the plant is simply unable to produce the radial tyre that industry is rapidly moving towards. Upgrading the factory to produce radial tyres would have necessitated an investment in a completely new multimillion-dollar plant, which is not feasible or justifiable under any circumstances, especially in the current economy.”

BSAF noted that despite concerted efforts to keep the plant going, including the sale of the factory to investors, all these were unsuccessful, with the plant unable to continue running.

The statement added that its decision to close the factory came after it had exhausted all alternative options.

The group said that it is still committed to Southern Africa, noting that its Brits manufacturing facility in the North West will continue full operations.

The company will ensure all the necessary support is provided to workers as the operation comes to an end.

In October last year, Bridgestone invested Us&44.3million in the South African  tyre plants.

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