Just over a month after sharing details of growth plans for its First Stop network in the UK, Bridgestone has announced a major change in its German First Stop network. Pending approval from the relevant authorities, Pneuhage, one of the country’s largest independent tyre retailers, will acquire a 75 per cent share in a joint venture with Bridgestone Deutschland. The intention is for First Stop in Germany and its subsidiaries – retail outlets, retreading operation and partner network – to be operated by this joint venture.
Pneuhage Partners Group GmbH & Co. KG, which was established by Pneuhage for investments in marketing and service concepts, is to serve as the platform for the new partnership. Plans for the joint venture have been submitted to the European Commission’s competition authorities. Upon approval from the authority, Bridgestone will take a 25 per cent share in Pneuhage Partners Group GmbH & Co. KG, and Pneuhage Management GmbH & Co. KG the remaining ownership share.
The Pneuhage Group’s independence is unaffected by this joint venture, reports our German sister publication Neue Reifenzeitung. Pneuhage Management GmbH & Co. KG and all its 100 per cent-owned subsidiaries remain entirely in the hands of Peter Schütterle, son and grandson of the company’s founders. “We feel honoured to be entrusted with the future management of First Stop and see this as a sign of the esteem in which the independent tyre dealer business model is held,” he commented.
Bridgestone EMEA chief operating officer Yves Kerstens added: “We’re convinced that the partnership with Pneuhage will provide First Stop and its workforce with a bright future.”
Pneuhage operates approximately 90 retail outlets in Germany. At the start of the year it expanded its presence through the acquisition of Reifen Ehrhardt and its 27 centres.