Bridgestone closes its Bethune plant in France.

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The structural measure is to protect the company's competitiveness in Europe.

Given the challenging long-term development of the European tire industry, Bridgestone needs to consider structural measures to reduce excess capacity and lower costs.

After careful consideration of all possible options, the company announced in an extraordinary work council that it intends to suspend all activities at the Bethune plant, as this is the only real move to protect the competitiveness of Bridgestone's operations in Europe.

The offer may apply to 863 employees. Bridgestone is fully aware of the social implications of this project and is committed to using every means at its disposal to develop support plans for each employee.

This will happen in close cooperation and through constant dialogue with employee representatives. Pre-retirement arrangements, support for relocation of employees to other areas of Bridgestone's operations in France, and initiatives to promote outsourcing will be proposed by the company and will be discussed in detail with employee representatives in the coming months.

In addition, Bridgestone intends to minimize the impact on the region by implementing a comprehensive plan to restore employment in the area. The company strives to create a special career change program and actively seek a buyer for the site.

Given the challenging long-term development of the European tire industry, Bridgestone needs to consider structural measures to reduce excess capacity and lower costs.

After careful consideration of all possible options, the company announced in an extraordinary work council that it intends to suspend all activities at the Bethune plant, as this is the only real move to protect the competitiveness of Bridgestone's operations in Europe.

The offer may apply to 863 employees. Bridgestone is fully aware of the social implications of this project and is committed to using every means at its disposal to develop support plans for each employee.

This will happen in close cooperation and through constant dialogue with employee representatives. Pre-retirement arrangements, support for relocation of employees to other areas of Bridgestone's operations in France, and initiatives to promote outsourcing will be proposed by the company and will be discussed in detail with employee representatives in the coming months.

In addition, Bridgestone intends to minimize the impact on the region by implementing a comprehensive plan to restore employment in the area. The company strives to create a special career change program and actively seek a buyer for the site.

Bridgestone needs to consider structural measures to maintain the sustainability of its European operations.

The current industrial context for passenger car production threatens Bridgestone's competitiveness in the European market. The passenger car tire market has faced major challenges over the past few years - even without considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few years, the car tire market volume has stabilized (CAGR <1%), while competition from cheaper Asian brands continues to grow (market share increased from 6% in 2000 to 25% in 2018). ), which leads to a general excess of production capacity. This put pressure on prices and margins, as well as overcapacity in the low rim segment due to falling demand. And within Bridgestone's overall European presence, the Betune plant is the least favored and least competitive.

Bridgestone has taken several measures in recent years, including efforts to improve the competitiveness of the Bethune plant. They were not enough and Bridgestone reported financial losses from Bethune tire production for several years. Given the current market dynamics, the situation is not expected to improve.

“Closing the Bethune plant is not an easy project. But there is no other solution to the problems we face in Europe. This is a necessary step to ensure the sustainability of Bridgestone's business in Europe, ”said Laurent Dartoux, CEO of Bridgestone EMIA. “We are fully aware of the implications of today's announcement and the implications it could have for employees and their families. This project is not a reflection of employee commitment or long-term commitment to providing high quality products to our customers; it is a direct result of the market situation that Bridgestone must address. Obviously, the priority is to find a fair and tailored solution for all employees, offering each of them individual support, as well as solutions that match their personal and professional projects. "

This project will not take place until the second quarter of 2021. Bridgestone will continue to maintain a strong presence in France, in particular through sales and retail operations with some 3500 employees.

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