ONE of Melksham's biggest and oldest employers, Cooper Tires, is closing down its factory with the loss of around 350 jobs.

The American-owned company is pulling out after more than a century and its site is likely to be sold for redevelopment.

In a statement, The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe said it plans to close its UK tyre manufacturing plant in Melksham by the end of 2023.

The company will now begin a consultation process on the proposed closure involving 350 Cooper employees and the relevant employee representative bodies.

Gavin Champion, HR Director at The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Europe, said: “It is with deep sadness that we have announced our intention to begin a consultation process on the proposed closure of our tyre production facility at Melksham. 

 “Our Melksham site has struggled to be competitive for some considerable time and everyone involved has worked extremely hard to keep operations going for as long as possible. However, this has become increasingly challenging in the current business environment.   

“We would like to confirm that these proposals are subject to consultation with relevant employee representative bodies, and we remain fully committed to act responsibly and fairly, and to provide appropriate support for everyone affected.”

Melksham MP Michelle Donelan said: "Disappointed to hear that Cooper Tires in Melksham will be closing down their factory site after 132 years of production.

"I will be meeting with representatives from Cooper Tires tomorrow to discuss their plan in greater detail. 

"I know many local people will be concerned by the announcement and I will provide an update tomorrow following the meeting."

In 2018, around 300 of the 732 jobs at the Bath Road factory were lost when the company stopped producing light vehicle and SUV tyres and switched their production to Serbia.

The company said at that time that the Melksham facility “in its present form is not competitive within the Cooper global manufacturing network or the tyre industry at large.”

The Melksham factory is Cooper Tire Europe’s highest cost production facility, and the company said that it considers expanding or updating the facility to be “not economically feasible.”

The remaining functions of the site were the production of specialist motorsport racing and motorcycle tyres, as well as the company’s Europe headquarters and Technical Centre, and materials business.

In June last year, The Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe’s merger with its new parent company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, was finalised following the announcement of its acquisition in February.

Goodyear approved a plan to streamline its global administrative structure in the second quarter of 2022, with the loss of nearly 500 jobs.