The European Market For Agricultural Tyres – Consolidation At All Levels
The worldwide market for tractors has seen many mergers over recent years but, with four big groups, this now seems to be coming to an end. Consolidation among tractor producers was regarded by their suppliers as a negative move, because the tyre manufacturers knew very well that the pressure on oe prices would intensify. In the European original equipment market for tractors, the three market leaders Michelin (including Kléber), Pirelli and Goodyear have a combined market share of 85 percent.
This dominance was threatened in 1994, because the big tyre companies all trusted the (completely wrong)forecasts of their oe customers. Instead of the market contracting, the tractor producers found they could increase their sales. This was the hour of smaller tyre market competitors in the field, such as Continental or Firestone, “oe exotics” like Taurus or Galaxy – and even the hour of some specialist wholesalers: when before had vehicle producers been forced to go to dealers asking for tyres? However, the attack of the smaller tyre competitors was stopped, as the better service of the larger companies asserted itself, and the customer also helped things to return to the status quo.
Unlike with car tyres, many buyers order their new tractor fitted with a certain brand of tyre. Because few farmers ask for Titan, Vredestein or Stomil, Pirelli, Goodyear and Michelin/Kléber regained their shares and the market returned to normal, once they had built up enough capacity to satisfy the oe business. Within recent years, market settlement also occurred because the number of independent tyre producers (but not the brands) has dwindled.
Specialist producer Taurus (Hungary) and Stomil (Poland) became part of the Michelin group; Barum is a Continental brand. Others were looking for alliances and so the Romanian brand Danubiana (Tofan Grup) was on the wish list of Goodyear, because the US tyre concern found out that it lacked a brand at the economy level. (Later Goodyear managers considered Sava could fit the bill.
) The US brand Titan has had a lot of problems in its North American home market and had to sell some niche segments. Israel’s Alliance closed one of two factories, Vredestein suffers under the high prices for raw-materials, Finland’s Nokian even gave the order to Michelin’s Poland plant (Stomil) to produce agricultural tyres because it did not seem sensible to produce this kind of tyre in the Finnish factory. Consolidation in the segment of agricultural tyres has not yet come to an end.