Hundreds of jobs to go as historic tyre firm moves production abroad

Motors | Published:

Cooper Tire is moving light vehicle tyre production from its site at Melksham, Wiltshire, putting 300 people out of work

Cooper Tire and Rubber Company is to move production of light vehicle tyres overseas from its Wiltshire site, axeing 300 jobs in the process.

The company blamed a lack of efficiency at the Cooper Tire Europe factory in Melksham, stating it was ‘an older, smaller facility that did not offer economies of scale’.

The 732-strong workforce will be reduced over 10 months, with Cooper Tire Europe’s HQ, sales and marketing offices, technical centre and materials business staying on the site. It’s expected that production of tyres for motorsports and motorcycles will also remain.

In a statement, Cooper Tire Europe said: “Subject to consultation, light vehicle tyres currently produced in Melksham may be obtained by Cooper Tire Europe from other sites within Cooper’s global manufacturing footprint to meet customer needs.”

Workers’ union Unite vowed to fight the job cuts, calling it a ‘hammer blow’ to the local economy. It claims the side of the business under threat has been affected by cheap, ‘inferior’ tyres from countries such as China.

Regional officer Tony Hulbert said: “Unite will be doing everything it can to support our members through this difficult time. In the coming days and weeks, Unite will be scrutinising the business case for these proposed job cuts and fighting for every job to minimise the number of redundancies. Unite will also be pressing bosses for guarantees of no compulsory redundancies.”

Jaap van Wessum, the general manager of Cooper Tire Europe, said in a statement: “We know the prospect of making positions redundant is difficult for our colleagues and the local community to consider. Yet, for Cooper Tire Europe to thrive into the long-range future, remaining a large Melksham-based employer, and meeting our obligations, we must explore obtaining light vehicle tyres from locations other than Melksham.


“It is essential for Cooper to be globally competitive in the tyre industry. To deliver on our strategic growth objectives, we must produce quality light vehicle tyres in high volumes and at a competitive cost.

“Unfortunately, the Melksham site is an older, smaller facility that does not offer economies of scale and it is the highest cost facility in the global Cooper network. Due to facility age and location in the centre of town, it is our current view, subject to consultation, that it is not economically feasible to modernise or expand there for light vehicle tyre production.”

The former Avon Tyres site was established in 1890 and taken over by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in 1997.

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