New Distribution Channels in the Tyre Trade
The tyre trade as we know it is fighting a defensive battle, finding it harder and harder to maintain its 60 p.c. market share of sales to the user.
Not only car franchise firms with their recently acquired considerable strength give the tyre trade a hard time in competition, but new forms of distribution, which may be grouped together under the loose label “Fast Fit”, are on the advance. Many Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford (to name but a few marques) so-called contract dealers have had their contracts terminated and are looking for new means of earning a livelihood. These companies, mostly family-run, will not easily be displaced.
They will specialise in marketing replacement parts complete with a competent and reasonably priced service. Fichtel & Sachs, a Mannesmann group subsidiary, offers a franchise system under the AutoCrew name, naturally also for the optimum marketing of its own products, shock absorbers. Bosch, the giant in the electrical field, is also looking for new openings for its service workshops.
The objective is to gain marketing expertise in tyres by cooperation with Goodyear, with Bosch offering Goodyear’s tyre trade partners know-how in the automotive field in return. Specialist markets like ATU with their increasing importance in tyre marketing should not be overlooked either. In the nineteen nineties ATU grew from zero to the current number of 230 outlets throughout Germany, all of them with high turnover figures, i.
e. each of them probably turning over well above 2.5 million euros.
ATU founder Peter Unger’s appetite, however, is not nearly satisfied, the expansion will go on. The article in the January issue of NEUE REIFENZEITUNG describes the individual tyre marketers. It queries many things, asks many questions without being able or willing to provide the answers.
Only one thing remains clear: To found a new company exclusively for tyre trading (including the services related to it) is dangerous. The chances of surviving a long start-up phase are regarded as relatively small. The gist of the article is this: In future we will see an ever increasing number of Fast Fitters making the bulk of their turnover with tyres, while Automobil, Bosch, AutoCrew and similarly derived Fast Fitters will focus mainly on other products, with tyres nevertheless generating a significant share of total turnover, somewhere between a quarter and a third.