By Denna Bowman
Michelin has announced that it is closing its tyres plant in Japan and moving production to other sites around the world.
The French tyres manufacturer blamed the move on the global economic downturn and the high production costs at the Ota plant north of Tokyo, which employs 380 people.
The closure will see production move to other factories in Asia, Europe and North America.
Michelin said: “Despite measures taken, in particular since 2006, to improve productivity, reduce production costs and, from 2007, refocus on the production of complex products such as X Ice tyres, the production cost at Ota plant remains around twice as high as those of other plants serving that tyre segment.”
The tyres maker has been investing heavily to build new plants in fast-growing emerging markets such as India and Brazil, where labour costs are lower than in Japan.
However, Michelin said it would retain a presence in Japan, home to its arch-rival Bridgestone, with research and development programmes and a sales network in the world’s number two economy.