* Hires people, increases automation to boost production
* To produce 3 mln tyres in 2021, 4 mln in 2022
* Nokian produced 2 mln tyres last year
* Shares rise over 4% (Adds quotes, detail, share price)
HELSINKI, March 29 (Reuters) - Finland’s Nokian Tyres plans to raise its output to three million tyres in 2021 and to four million next year, up from two million in 2020, the company said after announcing a capacity increase on Monday.
Demand for Nokian’s tyres began to rise late last year amid an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, while some manufacturers outside Europe faced delivery problems, Executive Vice President Manu Salmi said.
Nokian’s Finnish plant will operate four shifts on six days of the week, up from three shifts currently, and plans to boost automation and hire some 70 additional people, the company said.
“The demand has increased in all our primary market areas, especially in Europe,” Salmi told Reuters.
“We can begin running a fourth shift by early August when the training of new hires is completed,” he said.
Nokian’s share price rose 4 percent in Helsinki by 1303 GMT.
The competitor of French Michelin and German Continental in February reported a 17% drop in sales in 2020 due to a mild winter, the coronavirus pandemic and a weak Russian rouble. (Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)