What’s in a name? Dunlop and the future of our local economy

By Dr. Nick Henry, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE)

The 100 years-plus brand of Dunlop, once synonymous with the West Midlands, has been scattered far and wide as the company expanded and then saw substantial break up over the last few decades. US-owned Goodyear Dunlop Motorsport in Erdington, Birmingham, is currently embroiled in a public slanging match with the Prime Minister, Vince Cable, Birmingham City Council, local MPs and the unions over its decision to up sticks (probably to plants in Germany and France) rather than relocate down the road with support – over 250 jobs are very likely to go.

Meanwhile, literally round the corner, the totally separate Dunlop Aircraft Tyres, whose HQ remains in Birmingham, has doubled in size at Fort Dunlop, investing £4m in its factory to expand exports. Keen to avoid any mistaken connection, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres has publicly re-stated this investment and its current three-year, £3m R&D project on next generation aircraft tyres with Airbus, including match funding from UK Government.

Meanwhile, last month came the announcement by Coventry-based Dunlop Systems and Components of its move to a new purpose-built manufacturing facility at Prologis Park, Coventry. Previously located down the road at Holbrook Lane – from 1919 as the Dunlop Rim & Wheel Company Limited – Dunlop Systems and Components was a management buy-out in 2007 and views its announced relocation as “securing the company’s long-term future in Coventry”.

Significantly, and in contrast to the ‘footloose’ capital of Goodyear Dunlop Motorsports, the new building and the land it is on are to be held in a newly formed self-invested personal pension (SIPP) on behalf of 42 employees of Dunlop Systems and Components. Both the land and the building will then be leased back to the company providing a strong bond between the employees, the management buy-out and the future prosperity of Coventry and its local economy.



Coventry University