Cooper Tire Europe set to axe 300 jobs at Wiltshire factory

Michael Searles
Tyre Dump In Spanish Countryside
Source: Getty

Three hundred employees face redundancy after an historic tyre factory in Wiltshire announced plans to shift the majority of its production abroad in order to cut costs.

Cooper Tire Europe (CTE) currently employs 732 people at its factory in Melksham, which is more than 100 years old.

The business, which is part of the US-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, said it had begun a consultation to stop light vehicle tyre production in Wiltshire because it was no longer economically viable.

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The company took over the Avon Tyres Site in 1997, which historically supplied brands such as Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Land Rover.

It was part of Aston Martin’s world sports car championship victory in 1959 and continues to supply race championships around the world.

CTE plans to keep producing specialised racing tyres at Melksham as part of its motorsport division, but other tyres will now be made at other sites owned by the wider Cooper group.

Melksham would remain CTE’s headquarters but the move could see 300 people lose their jobs over a 10-month period.

The tyre maker currently has other factories in the US, Mexico, China and Serbia.

CTE general manager Jaap van Wessum said: "We know the prospect of making positions redundant is difficult for our colleagues and the local community to consider.

"Yet, for Cooper Tire Europe to thrive into the long-range future, remaining a large Melksham-based employer, and meeting our obligations, we must explore obtaining light vehicle tyres from locations other than Melksham.

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"It is essential for Cooper to be globally competitive in the tyre industry. To deliver on our strategic growth objectives, we must produce quality light vehicle tyres in high volumes and at a competitive cost.

"Unfortunately, the Melksham site is an older, smaller facility that does not offer economies of scale and it is the highest cost facility in the global Cooper network.

"Due to facility age and location in the centre of town, it is our current view, subject to consultation, that it is not economically feasible to modernise or expand there for light vehicle tyre production."