Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is considering shutting down its light vehicle tire production in Melksham, Wiltshire, England, home to the company's European headquarters.The company says it will spend the next 10 months studying its options.
Cooper says the Melksham plant is the company's most expensive production site, and its European subsidiary doesn't believe it's economically feasible to expand or renovate. It says during the 10-month consultation period Cooper will look at its options.
If the consumer tire production plant was shuttered, the company says it would secure those tires "from other sites within Cooper's global manufacturing footprint." Cooper has one other European plant, in Krusevac, Serbia. The company also has plants in the U.S. Latin America and China.
Shutting down that production would result in approximately 300 of Cooper's 732 job positions eliminated. Melksham would remain the home of Cooper's European headquarters, sales and marketing offices, Europe Technical Centre and materials business. It is expected that production of motorsports and motorcycle tires would also continue in Melksham.
Jaap van Wessum, general manager of Cooper Tire Europe, says, “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 tires from locations other than Melksham."
van Wessum says the company will do all it can to support workers potentially affected. It will work with its trade union, Unite, and other employee representatives, as well as the Wiltshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
“It is essential for Cooper to be globally competitive in the tire industry. To deliver on our strategic growth objectives, we must produce quality light vehicle tires 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 modernize or expand there for light vehicle tyre production.
“It is important to underscore that if we ultimately cease light vehicle tire production in Melksham, Cooper is not leaving the Melksham community.”
For more information, visit www.CTEMelkshamInfo.co.uk.