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Bridgestone's Watanabe discusses goals for the Americas

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Bridgestone Corp.'s goals for the Americas over the next three years include enhancing its profitability in North America and expanding its business in Latin America, Bridgestone Chairman, CEO and President Shigeo Watanabe told investors at the Tokyo Motor Show today.

Bridgestone wants to "enhance and standardize company-owned store quality to establish strong retail brand," according to Watanabe.

The Tokyo-based tiremaker also wants to boost production capacity for high performance and large diameter tires in North America and continue sourcing from plants throughout Latin America.

Earlier this year, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Vice Chairman and President Duke Nishiyama said Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) must break even in 2005.

BFNT did not turn a profit last year due to increases in raw material, pension and health care costs.

In addition, Watanabe reported that Bridgestone's Latin American business is expanding "beyond market growth rate."

The company wants to grow sales of Bridgestone brand tires on luxury vehicles in Latin America and also open 150 stores each year in the region.

Bridgestone is forecasting 2.6 trillion yen in sales and 163 billion yen in net profit for 2005, according to a Dow Jones report.

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