The Tyre Company with a Difference
In addition to its well-documented tyre related activities in the UK and overseas, Compass Group Ltd is comprised of a number of companies and divisions which generate a “substantial multi-million pound turnover” from diverse businesses ranging from tyres, fireplaces, marble, the marine industry, manufacturing, property, consultancy and even a World Bank accredited Procurement Agency. Despite the wide variety of business areas in which it operates, the Compass Group remains a privately owned and controlled family company with its head office in Guernsey. In addition to its headquarters in Guernsey, Compass Group has offices in London, Huddersfield, Beijing, Qingdao and in Bauchi state Nigeria, where its World Bank Procurement division has its head office. In the UK it has warehouses in London and Huddersfield and the fireplace company has showrooms in north and south London, Atlanta and Manhattan in the USA and a modern factory in China that employs 200 people. Tyre market influence Turning to tyres, Compass Group Ltd launched the GT Radial brand in Europe back in 1991 when it imported the first ever GT Radial brand car tyres into the UK and Ireland.
The company has been the exclusive importer and distributor for GT-produced tyres in the UK and Ireland in the 17 years since then. Even before the advent of GT-produced radials, Compass had already been the exclusive importer and distributor for GT produced cross-ply tyres going back as far as the mid 1980s. Tim Chesney describes a very interactive level of involvement with GT Indonesia, which saw Compass Group cooperate in the development, testing and then trademarking of the ‘GT Radial’ brand in its formative years when GT was a fledgling tyre manufacturer in Indonesia producing just seven radial sizes. The cooperation continued when the GT group branched out into manufacturing tyres in China with Giti China in the mid 1990’s. According to Tim Chesney, this has been so successful that GT produced brands now enjoy a market leading position in the UK market with Compass’ sales of GT produced car tyres running at nearly 2 million units a year, and the GT Radial truck tyre range that Compass Group launched in the UK and Ireland just five years ago, is fast approaching the point where it will have the largest market share of any non-premium brand in the UK truck tyre sector. With Compass Group and GT/Giti working so closely together, the GT Radial story in the UK is a glowing testament to successful and long term collaboration.
As Tim Chesney explains: “It is a success that has been built on a solid foundation of very hard work and dedication by all concerned, and it is also built on a mutual loyalty that has seen Compass’ exclusive distributor relationship honoured to the letter by GT, with this exclusive distributor status being widely displayed over the past 20 years at exhibitions, through advertising and across the tyre industry. This continuity and the close control of distribution exercised by Compass Group has reassured customers in the UK, particularly the largest national customers who have been the bedrock of the stellar growth in sales over the years.” According to Tim Chesney, many successful strategies have been followed by Compass over the years to help promote GT Radial. One of these was when Compass Group identified the importance of an OE angle to the GT development in Europe and in the mid 1990s it took a number of initiatives to introduce the brand to the OE sector, concentrating initially on the trailer sector, where it subsequently became the tyre of choice for trailer manufacturers in the UK. This success is reportedly now being replicated across other niche areas of the OE market such as the touring caravan sector. Tim believes that it has been initiatives such as these – which many people did not think a new brand could not aspire to – that have helped to propel GT Radial brand into the position it enjoys in the UK and European tyre industry today.
The Compass Group and its wholesale arm, Compass HD Tyres Ltd, now have over 120,000 square feet of warehouse space in the UK and the Group carries stocks of at least 150,000 GT tyres at any one time – both passenger car and truck tyres. Tim Chesney explained that this sizeable stockholding and the Compass Group’s financial commitment to the brand allow the company to service its large national customer base and to meet every demand for GT tyres in a timely fashion. In addition to its GT related tyre activities in the UK and Ireland the Compass Group and its subsidiaries also handle a number of other brands and types of tyres in the UK, Europe and beyond, from the company’s own ‘Compass’ brand tyres (manufactured in the Far East with company-owned moulds) through to earthmover tyre brands. Compass Group now also sells large quantities of tyres into a number of African countries, particularly into Nigeria, where the company has staff and offices. Tim Chesney says that the Compass Group has exciting plans to develop its tyre businesses still further over the next few years and GT produced tyres will be the primary