Changing face of Michelin Dundee
The sprawling Michelin Dundee factory occupies a 70-acre site at Baldovie.
The French group first revealed their plans for the Dundee operation on July 2 1970, in a twin announcement which also outlined proposals for a steel-cord production unit at Redmoss in Aberdeen.
It later transpired the firm had an option on a site at Kirkcaldy and had applied for planning permission to build the tyre factory at Huntingtower near Perth, but that application was refused.
The Dundee factory took two years to build and produced its first tyre – a 165-13 ZX tubeless radial – on November 6, 1972.
Michelin faced various economic challenges down the years, most significantly during the late 1970s and 1980s when it was forced into a major restructure by successive energy crises, massive overcapacity and the emergence of global markets .
However, the local factory was not immune to market forces and, in a bid to offset crippling energy bills, it introduced its iconic twin wind turbines in 2006.
But by the late 2000s, hundreds of jobs hung in the balance as Michelin’s board called for the facility’s closure.
It survived through a last-minute reprieve and, in November 2011, then First Minister Alex Salmond described Baldovie as a ‘factory of the future’ as it secured a multi-million-pound cash injection and saw 140 new jobs created.
The management team led by John Reid went on to secure successive rounds of new investment from Michelin centrally, including a multi-million-pound package signed off after the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
In total more than £60m has been invested in the factory in recent years.
The cash was spent on a 20,000 square metre warehousing facility to store 700,000-plus tyres and a new electrified production line to make next generation low rolling resistance tyres.
Money was also spent on infrastructure including new roads, pathways and site groundworks, due to its vulnerability to flooding from the Dighty Burn.
Cash was also spent in anticipation of linking the factory to the new Baldovie waste to energy plant, which is currently under construction on a neighbouring site.
The plan was to further offset Michelin’s huge carbon footprint by using power and heat generated at the new plant to underpin the manufacturing process.
In 2016, a confident air had returned to the factory and it was declared fit to serve for generations to come.
Unfortunately, that renewed sense of optimism was shattered when the closure decision was confirmed – 46 years to the day after the first tyre rolled off the Michelin Dundee production line.