BRUSSELS, Belgium—Bridgestone Corp. said it will close its passenger tire plant in Bari, Italy, in the first half of 2014 because of the decline in demand for car tires, except premium products.
The Bridgestone Europe N.V./S.A. facility employs 950 and can produce about 21,000 tires per day, the company said. It was opened in 1962 by Firestone.
The factory makes mostly low-end passenger tires, and Bridgestone said that segment is being served increasingly by imports from companies located in emerging economies, where production costs are lower.
The Japanese tire maker said its decision came after a thorough analysis of alternatives, but none could be found. Bridgestone said the overall European Union tire segment for cars fell by 13 percent in comparison with 2011, and no recovery to pre-2011 volume is expected before 2020. The only segment with positive forecasts is the premium.
The decision won't affect other Bridgestone businesses in Europe, including the Bridgestone Technical Centre Europe S.p.A. near Rome and the sales office of Bridgestone Italia S.p.A., in Agrate Brianza, near Monza. Bridgestone also has tire factories in France, Hungary, Poland and Spain.
Bridgestone did not disclose any estimates of the cost or savings expected from the closing.
The Bari plant also suffers from higher logistics and energy costs, Bridgestone said.