Bridgestone Drops Plan To Close Italian Tire Plant

ROME (Kyodo) -- Bridgestone Corp. will keep running its passenger car tire plant in Bari, Italy, dropping an earlier plan to close it in 2014, on the condition that the plant's productivity and costs improve, the Japanese firm's European arm said Monday.

An agreement was signed at the Ministry of Economic Development by all stakeholders including local institutions, the Ministry of Welfare and trade unions to implement a conversion plan for the plant to focus solely on tires for general use, Bridgestone Europe NV/SA said.

Since the announcement of the planned closure in March, citing a drop in demand amid the downturn of European economies and increasing pressure from rivals from emerging countries, the parties have negotiated to maintain operations of the plant, which started running in 1962 and has a workforce of about 950.

The cost-cutting efforts will include soliciting for voluntary retirement by some 380 employees by the end of 2015, officials said.

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