Tire manufacturer Michelin confident 2020 growth forecast to remain on track | Updated: 2020-03-02 14:54

An employee works at one of Michelin’s Shanghai plants that resumed operations on Feb 10. [Provided to China Daily]

French tire maker Michelin maintains its growth forecast for 2020 despite the outbreak of COVID-19, according to the company’s top management.

The company reiterated its firm belief that the market demand in China remains strong. “The demand can be delayed, but it will never disappear,” said Kamran Vossoughi, CEO of Michelin China.

Three of the company’s tire factories resumed production on Feb 10th, according to Vossoughi. And in two factories located in Shanghai and Shenyang, the former has more than 70 percent of the staff on duty and 60 percent of the production capacity has been restored; the latter has recovered to nearly 80 percent in staff strength and 90 percent in production capacity, thanks to the support of a lot of local employees.

While the biggest concern remained the safety of workers during this special period, Vossoughi made sure that Michelin acted responsibly and made the safety of employees the top priority even if meant potential economic loss.

Before the flood of workers came back to work, Vossoughi himself purchased enough protective stuff, including face masks and disinfectants, to provide a safe working environment.

Besides, every visitor must undergo strict procedure before they step in by setting up a special tent, installing an infrared thermometer, which can quickly measure the temperature of a large number of employees. At the meantime, the canteen has removed two-thirds of the seats, and the distance between diners has expanded, and all of them look like one “examination room”; in the office, there is no need to hold meetings. Even in an office, face-to-face communication should be avoided as much as possible, and the internet or telephone would be alternatives.

Because of the outbreak, the sales of Michelin China were also disrupted in February, but the CEO said that was understandable. It was not only Michelin, but all sectors and industries in China and now even the world was facing mounting challenges. With the gradual control of this epidemic, it will be a common problem for many enterprises to find their ways to resume production and boost capacity.

As the Chinese people begin to recover their work and life, the production line of Michelin began to come back to normal.

At work, hundreds of sales staff were contacting customers and suppliers all over the world by phone and network. Even if it was difficult to start, the situation was much better than expected.

Therefore, Michelin China has not lowered its growth forecast for 2020, and the market demand in China is still huge. The disguised blessing maybe that customers’ demand for products can be updated once every 24 hours, which greatly improves the business efficiency and helps to recover production.

Zheng Hao contributed to this story

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