Bridgestone Firestone Mexico To Close Aging Mexico City Plant

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Dec. 3, 2007) – Bridgestone Firestone de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (BFMX), a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. (BSAH), today announced that it will be closing its Mexico City tire plant in the second half of 2008.  This difficult decision was necessary because essential expansion of the plant is not feasible due to its metropolitan location, locked in on all sides by commercial and residential development.  Expansion of the plant is critical to the facility’s future profitability through the production of more technologically sophisticated and market-demand driven products. Further complicating the situation, a substantial portion of the land where the plant is situated is leased from three different owners; one of those owners has advised the company that BFMX’s lease will not be renewed and that the property is up for sale. The plant is equipped to primarily build bias-play tires in the light truck and truck/bus lines, a diminishing segment of the overall market which is dominated by low-cost producers.

Due to its location in a metropolitan area, the complexities surrounding the ownership of the underlying land, the plant’s age (the building was constructed in 1937), intense competition from low-cost producers and a shrinking overall market for the products it builds, the company stated that it has no choice but to close the Mexico City Plant.

“We are grateful to the BFMX teammates and the union leadership in Mexico City for their support and efforts at the plant over the years,” said Ariel DePascuali, President, Bridgestone Firestone de Mexico S.A. de C.V. “While we found it necessary to make a tough decision to close the Mexico City plant, the recently completed expansion of our Cuernavaca facility and the opening of the state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Monterrey underscore our respect for the workforce in Mexico and our commitment to investment in this country,” DePascuali explained.

The decision to issue a notification of the closure of the Mexico City plant was made only after serious consideration of all alternatives.  The Union leadership and teammates at the Mexico City plant have been informed.  The company has also contacted local government officials and community leadership to explain its position. 

The Mexico City plant employs 145 full-time hourly and 30 salaried employees. It is likely that many of the plant’s workers will be eligible to retire, based on their length of service.

The closure of the Mexico City plant will not effect BFMX’s strong commitment to the Mexican market as demonstrated by Bridgestone America’s substantial new investments in the BFMX plant in Cuernavaca and the newly opened new state-of-the-art facility in Monterrey.  Bridgestone Firestone Mexico will continue to provide first-rate support to its dealers and plans to grow its Family Channel dealer base in Mexico. The company expects that with its excellent dealer network, the Bridgestone and Firestone brands will continue to be a popular choice for consumers in Mexico.

“The Cuernavaca and Monterrey plants will produce the high quality tires that our customers want and deserve in efficient plants that can effectively compete in the global marketplace,” DePascuali said. “Although closing our plant in Mexico is a painful decision, we are committed to moving our business forward in Mexico. We will continue to work very hard to serve the needs of our teammates, our customers and our communities,” DePascuali concluded.

About Bridgestone Firestone de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.:
Bridgestone Firestone de México, S.A. de C.V. (BFMX) is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. and a part of that company’s Bridgestone Firestone Latin American Tire Operations business unit. BFMX manufactures, markets and sells a wide variety of passenger, light truck, truck and bus, agricultural, and off the road tires. BFMX’s two manufacturing facilities are located in Cuernavaca, Morelos and in Mexico City.  

The Cuernavaca facility produced its first tire in 1980 and today manufactures high and ultra high performance radial passenger, light truck and truck tires. The Mexico City facility produced its first tire in 1958 and today manufactures bias truck and agricultural tires. Both plants have achieved the highest standards in quality assurance and safety, and manufacture products primarily for the Mexican market. BFMX markets its products through a network of dealers and retailers and provides products to original equipment manufacturers. One of three Bridgestone Americas proving grounds is also located in Acuña, Mexico.

About Bridgestone Firestone Latin America:
Bridgestone Americas maintains an established and strong presence in Latin America through the subsidiaries that make up the operating unit known as Bridgestone Firestone Latin American Tire Operations (BFLA). BFLA, through eight subsidiaries, operates seven tire production plants — two in Mexico, two in Brazil, and one each in Argentina, Costa Rica and Venezuela — along with proving grounds in Acuña, Mexico, and São Pedro, Brazil.

About Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc.:
Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of the Bridgestone Corporation. BSAH, through its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies also produce air springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber and industrial fibers and textiles and operate the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centers.