The Bridgestone tyre factory in Papanui, Christchurch, is closing with the loss of 275 jobs.

The company's owners in Japan announced the closure of two plants today, blaming intensifying cost competition globally. The other plant to close is in Adelaide, Australia, where 600 jobs will go.

The Papanui plant is one of the biggest employers in the Christchurch area. The factory opened in 1947 and produced the first tyre in New Zealand.

The decision was explained to all employees and unions at both plants this afternoon, Bridgestone Australia Ltd said in a statement.

The company said it was a difficult decision to make.

"Despite continued efforts to improve cost competitiveness at both plants, international competitive forces have been making tyre manufacturing in Australia and New Zealand increasingly difficult to the point where the operations in both countries are no longer viable," the company said.

The closures will take effect at the New Zealand manufacturing plant by the end of the year.

Bridgestone's distribution, customer service and retail networks, which employ more than 1500 people, will continue unaffected.

Affected employees will receive their full entitlements and the company is working on a range of initiatives to assist employees.

"We would like to express our thanks to all our employees at our manufacturing facilities in both countries. Their contribution over so many years is to be admired and celebrated," said Andrew Moffatt, senior executive director.

The company also operates three retread factories in New Zealand, according to the website.

"It is our goal to help as many of our employees as possible gain alternative employment, either within the Bridgestone organisation or in the wider marketplace,' Mr Moffatt said.

Bridgestone is working with local government in Adelaide and Christchurch to gift some land to recognise the enormous contributions of the communities.

Bridgestone Corp is Japan's biggest maker of tyres.

- NZPA