Michelin is planning to shut down operations at its truck tyre factory in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, and invest in expanding the Dundee car tyre and Stroke-on-trent retreading sites. According to the company’s closure plans, the run down will take place between now and mid-2018 closure point.
Presently, the Ballymena factory employs around 860 people but the company said that it is “committed to supporting those employees during the consultation and the forthcoming months”.
The aid will come in the form of redundancy payments, training and advice to find new employment quickly. The company will also support the employees that are prepared to relocate by offering them job in UK or European plants. The employees will also benefit from Michelin Development since it is prepared to invest £5 million into start-ups so that they can expand their existing businesses. This move is likely to attract new businesses to Ballymena.
The company decided to shut down the truck tyre factory in Ballymena due to significant downturn in the demand for truck tyres and increased low-cost imports. According to Michelin, the financial crisis resulted in drop of 5 million tyres since 2007. Moreover, the influx of made-in-Asia tyres has doubled over the last few years.
“As a result, there is a strong need to reduce overcapacity and to concentrate Michelin truck tyre production in larger, more competitive sites,” Michelin’s statement read.
Despite the efforts made by the company to revive the Ballymena tyre business, European factories of the company are still more competitive than Ballymena. Moreover, the machines at the Ballymena plant needed upgradation but the investment required for that wasn’t justified considering the market situation.