‘The Acid Test is Quality’
When Peter Gaster is not acting as NTDA chairman, the other hat he wears is as group managing director of Kings Road Tyres (for details of his first speech in this role see this month’s TAFF awards coverage). On this occasion the conversation focused largely on KRT’s product range, the recent influx of OTR products and why many manufacturers failed to turn out at this year’s event.
With more tyres than any other stand at the show, Kings Road Tyres’ Brityrex exhibit marked itself apart from the rest. The majority of what was on show came from the company’s wide range of quality private and exclusive brand commercial vehicle tyres, but KRT also had selections from its passenger 4×4 ranges (including Cooper products) on show.
In order to promote this side of the business, the leading wholesaler offered visitors to the Brityrex exhibition the opportunity to win a day’s off-road driving experience at Kankku Off Road Adventures based in Windermere. Kankku run a fleet of modified G4 Defender 90s fitted with Cooper Discoverer STTs, one of which was parked at an acute angle outside the G-Mex.
As much as the company are behind their passenger car ranges, Peter Gaster is straightforward about that fact that his company has an emphasis on commercial vehicle products: “We are the biggest [wholesale] seller of truck tyres in the UK market – competitors might disagree, but I know it is true.”
One notable addition to this year’s KRT exhibit was a corner devoted to the range of Chinese-produced products the wholesaler offers. Here Aeolus brand products lead the way, being described as performance truck products, alongside Infinity brand tyres. Peter Gaster has a philosophical approach to the role low cost far eastern products might have to play. “Chinese products are becoming a feature in the market – the important thing is making the right choice,” he commented, adding: “Aeolus and Infinity are the quality we have gone for. It is easy to go after what is cheapest on the day – but this is not good business. We have chosen brands and chosen to stick with them for the sake of consistency. We don’t want to known to be selling cheap tyres for the sake of it.”
It is not long before this conversation with Tyres & Accessories moves onto the subject of the recent influx of low-cost off-the-road/earthmover tyres from places like China, with Gaster predicting that the market will soon reach saturation point: “In six months to a year from now the market with reach oversupply point. But you have to ask if all the products on the market are fit for purpose? One has to be sure that products are up to the job, especially when it comes to high-speed crane products. “Customers want products that keep their cranes going, but manufacturers and distributors have to be aware of whether products will cause problems in terms of quality control comeback.”
According to Gaster, the acid test is quality as quality will stay even when oversupply becomes a present reality in the market. Speaking about the Maitech/Uzmai range KRT offers, Peter Gaster said: “This product’s quality with stand up to scrutiny. Our range will grow in fact with more products becoming available soon.”
A sad reflection
Talking to T&A, Peter Gaster spoke of his enthusiasm for a dedicated tyre show like Brityrex as an event. He singled out tyre manufacturers for their General lack of attendance: “Why do UK manufacturers continue to stay out? It is a sad reflection on of how they view the market.”
From Gaster’s point of view, KRT and show organisers ECI International have made a commitment to the development of a UK tyre market orientated exhibition. “I want the show to be a success for my own company and the UK tyre industry,” Gaster commented, adding: “The new show venue has been superb – and very well organised.”