The tread finally wore out on Britain’s tyre industry this week when Avon Rubber announced the sale of its tyres division, to Cooper Tire and Rubber of the US for £60m.
Avon’s only manufacturing site in Melksham, Wiltshire, is the last British-owned tyre manufacturer. The jobs of all 1,400 workers at Melksham would be protected by Cooper, said an Avon spokesman. The deal will net the firm, based at nearby Bradford-on-Avon, about £12m profit. This will be used to invest in its other activities, automotive components and technical products, where management predict significant growth opportunities.
Avon said the deal would free it from the highly competitive tyre market, which has been suffering from currency fluctuations and the recent surge in the strength of sterling.
Over the past two years, Avon Rubber has concentrated on expanding automotive and technical products and combined operating profits of both divisions increased from £12.5m in 1994 to £18.2m last year. Outlook for the divisions remains in line with expectations.