For a nation so interested in weather that its obsession has become a national cliché, the UK winter tyre market has continued to elude growth, yet this is not preventing wholesaler Stapleton’s from continuing to make the case for winter tyres. The company stocks a range of premium and house brand seasonal fitments, in which it continues to see potential from both a driver safety and dealer profit perspective. Following the UK’s wettest June since records began in 1910, giving us the impression of a very short-lived summer, Stapleton’s suggested that perhaps it won’t be too much of a wrench to turn our thoughts to the coming winter, the challenges it brings for drivers, and the opportunities for tyre retailers that come in the form of winter tyre sales.
The biggest problem is possibly that – though Britons enjoy griping – the UK rarely suffers extremes of any sort. Since winter tyres are described as worthwhile only when temperatures sink to 7°C and below, Stapleton’s suggests that it’s not very surprising that our drivers tend not to fit them unless conditions deteriorate significantly. Research carried out by CarsandGarages.co.uk found that 54 per cent of consumers find winter tyres too expensive.
“It’s a perennial challenge – actually an annual one to be more precise – and it’s one we’re constantly discussing with our retail partners in our relentless efforts to help them turn that challenge into a serious sales opportunity,” comments Stapleton’s wholesale director Nigel O’Hara. “Things are more straightforward for some of our continental colleagues in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Austria and Slovakia where winter tyres are mandatory at specified times of year – but that’s not to say we can’t make a really compelling case to our customers. After all this is not just about the tyre industry’s profits; it’s about saving lives!”
O’Hara has a point; a study conducted by Continental shows that travelling on snow at 31mph on standard tyres, a car takes 43 metres to stop. By fitting winter tyres the stopping distance is reduced to 35 metres. So why do only three per cent of UK drivers fit them (according to estimates dating from 2013 – the figure now could have contracted further, given the lack of a fierce winter in the years since)?
“Well obviously cost is a factor – and so is well informed advice from a retailer who has our full support in terms of advice, training and product availability,” O’Hara answers. “So the mission for all of us is to persuade that elusive 97 per cent of UK drivers to consider investing in winter tyres. How? With a superb offering from brands such as Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin and Pirelli as well an offering from our house brand portfolio, that covers every market segment with uncompromised performance and safety at impressively persuasive prices across the board.
“We’re very excited about what we have to offer this winter – and we think the retailers will be too. And as is our overriding policy, this balance of premium with exclusive brands arms our retail partners with a terrific breadth of choice of quality winter tyres that deliver the safety and handling performance their customers demand at the keenest prices.”