The investment includes plans to initiate local production of the Sumitomo Tires’ brand as well as range extensions and quality enhancements to the iconic Dunlop brand at the company’s South African manufacturing plant in Ladysmith. These new ranges will require significant technological enhancements and physical expansion to the 41 year old plant. This announcement was made at the opening of the new corporate head office in Durban by the Group CEO & President, Mr. Ikuji Ikeda.
SRSA has also invested significantly in its Ladysmith based workforce and included multiple stakeholders in a structured programme to promote unity, productivity and motivation of the workforce in line with the expansion plans. “The Ladysmith plant is set to undergo significant changes over the next 18 months and we really wanted our employees to feel part of this process and to be excited by the expansion,” explains Mr. Riaz Haffejee, CEO of SRSA.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd (SRI), the Japanese tyre manufacturing giant acquired the manufacturing and distribution license for Dunlop tyres in South Africa and 33 African countries from Apollo Tyres Limited in December 2013. This led to the formation of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (Pty) Ltd. This latest investment is an indication of the company’s commitment to growing its business in South Africa and boosting the quality of the company’s products and ongoing improvement of the range offering to consumers. Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd, manufactures and distributes Dunlop tyres across many territories as well as Falken and Sumitomo Tire brands worldwide.
Today, SRSA produces tyres in passenger, SUV/4×4 and light truck applications and will introduce its new range of Truck Bus Radial tyres in January 2015, which will be distributed both locally and internationally.
The Sumitomo Tires’ range, although new to local markets, is a highly acclaimed brand that has a proven track record in the competitive European and North American markets and the company believes that it will perfectly complement the flagship Dunlop brand.
“The Dunlop brand already has a strong consumer loyalty base in South Africa, and is instantly recognisable throughout Africa, having recently taken top place in the TGI Brand Icon Survey 2013 / 2014 for the third consecutive year,” says Mr. Haffejee, who goes on to elaborate, “First introduced into the country in 1935, when Dunlop Limited opened its Durban factory and subsequently the Ladysmith factory in 1973, Dunlop has since gone on to build an impressive track record of achievements in this country and around the world.”
At a time when the industry faces challenges from high manufacturing costs, tough labour relations and imported tyre competition, SRSA is still confident in making the investment and has taken a long term view of the South African motor industry and African tyre market potential.
SRSA is sure that this investment will have a hugely positive effect on the country’s tyre industry and local employment and will serve to facilitate the company’s future growth and development on the African continent.