By Denna Bowman
The boss of the Michelin factory in the UK has spoken out about how it has survived global economic recession and is now looking to expand.
John Reid, who runs the tyres plant on the outskirts of Dundee, told the Herald Scotland that he believes the omens are good for the last plant of its kind in Scotland.
The Glasgow-born engineering graduate’s confidence is partly due to the fact that demand for tyres is expected to increase dramatically across the world.
With millions of the citizens of countries like China, India and Brazil enjoying big increases in their disposable incomes, the number of cars in the world is expected to double in coming years.
Mr Reid told the Scotland Herald: “The biggest challenge we are going through is keeping up. The strategy is one of dramatic growth.
“By 2015 Michelin aim to have 25% more volume, that’s the equivalent of 18 new factories. By 2020 they are aiming for 50% more.”
Michelin is seeking Scottish Government support for a multi-million pound upgrade of the plant, to enable it to make the latest generation of “environmentally-friendly” car tyres. This would involve moving to seven-day working.
The recessionary years proved a challenge for the plant. Mr Reid said: “2009 was touch and go. A number of plants that were good and about the same size are now closed.”
The factory is reaping the rewards of efforts to increase efficiency that were made amid the crisis. “We went really hard on the supply chain.”
Mr Reid believes management, staff and the union have a common goal of securing the long term future of the plant. An important manifestation of this has been the willingness of staff to accept the principle of flexible working. This involves 150 of the employees working variable hours that change to suit demand patterns.
“Flexibility is important. If you can’t flex you’re either going to carry too much cost or be forced into losing jobs.”
Mr Reid expects to recruit an additional 140 workers at Dundee if Michelin wins backing for the proposed investment. He expects a decision from the Scottish Government in coming weeks.