Michelin has announced that it will close its Japanese plant, in Ota (Gunma Prefecture), which employs about 380 people, and move the production to other lower cost sites in Asia, Europe and North America.

Michelin plans to shutter the plant from July 2010 and said that its costs remained high despite measures taken to improve productivity, reduce production costs and, since 2007, refocus on the production of 'complex products'.

Michelin said that production costs at the Ota plant have remained around twice as high as those of other plants serving that tyre segment.

Michelin said it will "continue to develop its operations and expand its presence in Japan and the Asia Pacific region, notably through its research and development programs in Ota, its sales operations throughout the country and its activities at Nihon Michelin Tire Co Ltd. headquarters in Tokyo."

Costs associated with the end of production at Ota plant will bring the restructuring charges the group will book in 2009 to 410 million euros, Michelin said. The tyre maker added that discussions with representatives of the plant's approximately 380 employees are being held "in order to rapidly deploy measures to enable employees affected by the closing to find jobs, either within Michelin Group, in particular in Ota site in Japan, or elsewhere."