France urges Bridgestone to weigh options for threatened plant

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PARIS (Reuters) – France urged Japan’s Bridgestone 5108.T Wednesday to examine alternative options for a French tire factory it plans to shut down, saying the company was largely responsible for the situation.

Bridgestone announced earlier today that it will start talks to close the plant in Bethune, in the north of the country, amid weak demand for its main product, low-profile tires.

With 863 employees, the plant has a daily production capacity of approximately 17,000 tires.

In a joint statement, the French Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, and the young Minister of the Economy, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, said they totally disagree with the Bridgestone closure plans, calling them “brutal” and ” unfounded”.

Bridgestone had “largely divested from the Bethune plant for many years, in favor of its other European plants,” they said.

This decision had made the plant mechanically less competitive, in addition to allocating it low-margin products in a continuously declining market, they added.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Louise Heavens and Clarence Fernandez

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