Goodyear vows to improve North American Tire business

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"Our plans are not finalized but the direction is solid," Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. President Bob Keegan announced during a late-morning press conference today.

Keegan wants to "sell more tires by increasing productivity in our dealer channels. We have right-priced our products for the market segment. We'll be competitively positioned."

Goodyear's wholesale distributors are back to buying "at 75% the level they were a year ago," he says.

The Akron, Ohio-based tiremaker will introduce 20 new major products globally over the next 12 months "and a significant portion (of those) will be in North America. We're expanding our product pipeline."

Goodyear needs to become more profitable in the broad-market segment, Keegan says.

At the original equipment level, "we'll be pursuing fitments selectively... and (will) desource from models" that aren't profitable.

Goodyear also will make a pricing announcement this Friday, though Keegan was unable to provide more details.

"We're continually looking at our pricing. We know we have to take our break-even point down."

Another major goal will be improving product mix, he says.

Goodyear plans to bring in more products from low-cost, off-shore sources during 2003, while reducing inventory.

Turnaround in North America "is critical to our success," Keegan says.

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