LAS VEGAS (Nov. 13, 2003) — Bridgestone Corp. expects its Tochigi, Japan, plant to be running at full capacity by October 2004 after a massive fire damaged the factory in September, the tire maker's top executive said recently.
Shigeo Watanabe, president, CEO and chairman of Bridgestone, said the Japanese plant is currently running at about 50-percent capacity. He spoke during Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire's retail dealer meeting Nov. 5 in Las Vegas.
The fire broke out Sept. 8 at the plant's rubber mixing area, and the flames were extinguished later in the week. When the plant restarted production later that month, capacity was running about 20 percent, the tire maker said.
Bridgestone said direct and indirect costs from the blaze could be as high as $357 million. The losses are expected to result in a $45 million, or 3.4 percent, drop in 2003 operating income. Still, the company said in September the weakening yen and strong exports will largely offset the costs.
“We are doing everything we can to minimize the impact from that fire,” Mr. Watanabe told the North American dealers.