PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa—Bridgestone Corp. has finalized the process to close its truck, farm and OTR tire plant in Port Elizabeth after sealing closure terms with workers and unions at the 84-year-old facility.
Nov. 15 will be the plant's last day of operation, Bridgestone said, in accordance with terms of its consultations with the plant's work force.
Bridgestone disclosed its decision to close the factory in August, citing the unprofitable nature of the factory's bias-ply manufacturing capacity. The closing affects 252 workers.
"The proposal to close the plant was not taken lightly and the impact on employees has been taken into account from the outset," said Jacques Fourie, CEO of Bridgestone South Africa (Pty.) Ltd. "We endeavored to treat employees with the utmost compassion and fairness to support them through the change, while adhering to all legal requirements and due diligence."
Bridgestone said the South Africa plant had been under financial pressure in recent years, due to "a variety of economic conditions and industry factors." A key factor, said the group, is the global phasing out of bias industrial and OTR tires manufactured at the plant.
"The unfortunate reality is that the plant is simply unable to produce the radial tire that industry is rapidly moving toward," Fourie said.
According to the official, upgrading the factory to produce radial tires would have needed a multi-million dollar investment in a new plant, a course of action he described as "not feasible or justifiable under any circumstances, especially in the current economy."
The proposed move, the company said, is in line with its recently unveiled strategy to strengthen its core tire business through focus on premium, profitable growth segments.
Bridgestone South Africa said it still is committed to "serving society with superior quality in Southern Africa" adding that its 49-year-old radial car and truck tire plant in Brits, South Africa, will continue to operate fully.