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Tony O'Kane | Oct 24, 2009

BRIDGESTONE WILL END its local tyre-manufacturing presence next year, announcing that it will close its Adelaide plant by April 2010.

The decision to shut down the Adelaide plant comes on the back of news that Bridgestone's New Zealand plant in Christchurch would also be closed. Around 600 jobs will be lost in Adelaide, while the Christchurch closure will put 275 people out of work.

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Pressure from cheaper imported tyres has been cited as the primary cause of the plant closures, and Bridgestone senior executive director Andrew Moffatt said increased competition made Australian and NZ tyre manufacture unviable.

"As the last tyre manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand, we have worked hard over many years to avoid today's decision," Mr Moffat said.

"Despite continued efforts to improve cost competitiveness at both plants, international competitive forces have been making tyre manufacturing in Australia and New Zealand increasingly difficult to the point where operations are no longer viable.

"The unfortunate reality is that Bridgestone Australia can no longer commercially justify the continued operation of these facilities."

Mr Moffat promised that all workers at the plants would receive their entitlements, but did not discuss how much it would cost the Japanese tyremaker. The company would also help workers find new jobs.

Bridgestone's departure follows the closure of the South Pacific Tyres factory in Melbourne last year, which left just under 600 people jobless.

Bridgestone will keep its Australian headquarters at Adelaide and says local suppliers and distribution networks will be unaffected by the plant closure.

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