By Oliver Hall
Continental tyres are being forced to close down two European plants amid a severe crisis in the auto industry.
Nearly 2,000 workers at the Hanover and Clairoix plants in Germany will lose their jobs due to the closures and Continental is also cutting production at its Puchov factory in Slovakia by 20 per cent.
Continental said it had finally exhausted short term measures such as the reduction of surpluses on working time accounts, longer plant vacations, the capping of contracts for temporary workers and shorter working hours for core staff.
Hans-Joachim Nikolin, head of Continental’s tyres business, said: ‘Unfortunately, in the face of stubborn slump in demand of this great magnitude, the short-term measures at our disposal are no longer sufficient.
‘We have studied various options and concluded that the competitiveness of the tyre divisions can be maintained only by closing the two plants with the highest costs – and these are the passenger tyre plant in Clairoix and the commercial vehicle tyre plant in Hanover.’
Describing the current OE and replacement market trends as ‘steadfastly dire’ a Continental statement explained that the company is basing the production cuts on the prediction that the market will not recover enough in the short or medium-term future to utilise existing production levels.
Mr Nikolin added: “It has not been easy for us to present these plans to those concerned. Regrettably, there is no alternative.”
Production capacity of 8 million car tyres annually in its French site in Clairoix would be reduced in two steps with its complete closure no earlier than the end of March next year, affecting some 1,120 employees.
Production in its home plant of Hanover, where some 1.4 million commercial vehicle tyres are made every year, would also end as of Dec. 31 this year, while output at its Slovak plant in Puchov would be reduced by 20 percent.
Together this would lower commercial vehicle tyre production throughout Europe by a total of 27 percent, according to Continental.
Mr Nikolin added: ‘It has not been easy for us to present these plans to those concerned. Regrettably, there is no alternative.’