By definition, the top 20 ranking focuses its attention on the 20 largest retail chains in a given year. However, it would be wrong to assume that there aren’t equally important changes outside the top 20. Take the next five positions for example, there have also been significant changes in the fifth tier (positions 21 to 25 inclusive). And, with some 20,000 points of sale where tyres can be bought in total (including garages), all 25 positions only account for the top 10 per cent of the overall market. With that in mind, let’s take a look at those that just missed out on the attention of being in the top 20.
The 2017 edition of Tyres & Accessories’ annual retail report shows that the overall number of branches controlled by the top 20 retail chains continues to grow. However, that is just part of the story and the data shows that there have actually been significant movements in every tier of the top 20. Perhaps the clearest observation is that Micheldever’s Protyre retail chain is once again the fastest growing in the UK – a title it claims in 2017 for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, Goodyear’s HiQ franchise network is the top 20’s fastest faller – something that suggests the first changes in the make-up of the top five since we started tracking the UK retail landscape could take place before the year is out.
This year’s UK tyre retail ranking shows that the fastest growing tyre retailer is Micheldever’s Protyre chain, which added some 21 branches to its network in the last year – by far the fastest growth (both in terms of branch count and growth percentage) of any tyre retailer we are tracking. Nevertheless, ETEL remains the largest overall and is also the fastest faller, with the company running 9 points of sale less than in our 2014/2015 research. However, context makes a big difference, so for more on both these stories, read on.
While many of the names of the top 20 tyre retail chains will be familiar, the last year has seen the continuation of a number of so-called right-sizing and redistribution trends, especially at the bottom end of the top 15 between places (positions 11 – 15). At the same time, one or two medium sized retailers have grown significantly since the last survey, resulting in greater influence from this part of the market. At the same time as this, the total number of branches controlled by the top 20 chains continues to grow – pushing the balance of power further in the direction of those retail multiples.
Following the publication of our latest coverage of the development of tyre retail business in the UK in the May issue of Tyres & Accessories (see “Mind the gap: UK retailers continue right-sizing” online and in the print edition), it has come to our attention that one company that has grown into a significant position of influence within the market during the last few years was overlooked.
Continuing our coverage of developments in the UK tyre retail sector, Tyres & Accessories reports on the following 15 companies in its 2014 top 20 leading UK tyre retailers report. After the market leading five, the next five companies in the top 20 are the fastest growing in our ranking, and probably in the market as a whole. Like Micheldever/Protyre, McConechy’s Tyre Service has grown significantly since our last survey, adding seven branches to its number and pushing its total up to 52. This brings the company’s total back to pre-recessionary levels and could be read as another indication of improving conditions in the market.
Continued branch attrition at some of Britain’s largest tyre retail chains means the line between the top five and the rest of the top 10 has continued to blur. Furthermore, we now have three 50+ branch retail chains outside the top four (which are all 100+) for the first time since Tyres & Accessories started tracking this data five years ago.
Following the publication of our recent overview of developments in the UK tyre retail landscape (Retail: Hold it steady), Tyres & Accessories has now published the accompanying data in table format. This is now available to view 24 hours a day through our tyrepress.com website. Subscribers need only click more to view the details.
The introduction of tyre labelling is likely to be the greatest change tyre dealers will experience this year. In fact some say it is the biggest adjustment to the business experienced in this tyre retailing generation, something that is likely to be true irrespective of country. Whatever your view, the introduction of this legislation comes at a time when European financial markets remain in turmoil and some of the continent’s largest tyre markets – including the UK – have returned to recession. And this at a time when incoming product prices remain high as a legacy of the last couple of years of raw material cost increases. It all adds up to significant pressure on the retail sector.
Like London buses, acquisitions come along in threes - or so the string of recent purchases in the UK tyre distribution sector would make it seem. Between the tail-end of February and the very first days of March, it emerged that Stapleton’s Japanese owner Itochu had bought Britain’s largest tyre retailer Kwik-Fit, Stapleton’s had itself bought North Eastern Tyres & Exhausts, while fellow Grouptyre member King David Tyres had been sold to Malvern Tyres. And what’s more, this movement doesn’t look like it has quite finished yet. In February Harris Brothers sold its four branches to Micheldever Tyres Services, bringing the company’s retail depot count to 53 and counting. True, this overview is lumping changes in the wholesale business together with developments in the retail sector, but as history and recent events tell us the two parts of the trade are inextricably linked.