BRUSSELS (Feb. 23, 2009) — Bridgestone Corp. will be idling tire plants in France, Spain, Italy and Poland up to eight days a month throughout the first half of 2009 to deal with weakening demand throughout Europe.
“The currently unstable economic environment means that we have to constantly review the supply and demand balance, and adjust our production plans accordingly,” said Samon Isogai, senior vice president of manufacturing for Bridgestone Europe. “We want to be able to respond to any upturn in demand when it occurs.”
The cuts follow “worsening market demand during December, January and February, especially at the new vehicle manufacturers,” Bridgestone said.
The plants affected are in Bethune, France (1,200 employees); Bilbao (1,100 employees) and Burgos (1,280 employees), Spain; Bari, Italy (940 employees); and Poznan, Poland (1,300 employees). The firm's plants in Tatabanya, Hungary, and Puente San Miguel, Spain, are not affected, and a plant in Stargard, Poland, is not due on stream until later this year.
The company said it is taking the action to match production with demand and to ensure stock levels are appropriate to the market situation. In the medium to long term, Bridgestone said it will strive to match its output with demand.
The company recognized that it is expensive to run plants at reduced capacity but said it did not expect to make any permanent layoffs in the next month, and would strive to keep workers employed — albeit on reduced hours — for as long as possible.