Broadening the Base of the Business

Starco GB Ltd has appointed Chris Wilson (who joins from Summit Tyres) to spearhead a new industrial tyre aftermarket sales team. Wilson brings with him almost four decades of experience in the sector, which includes work at the sharp end of running a mobile fitting business. As a result of this – and the recent addition of the GlobeStar forklift tyre range – Starco’s management hopes to develop a real focus on the forklift end of the industrial to complement its growing OEM supply operation.

Up till now, Starco GB Ltd has remained relatively quiet about the ins and outs of the company’s generally OE-focused strategy. However, now that the business has made the strategic decision to move more into the aftermarket (while also continuing to develop its business to OEMs), the Europe-wide specialist tyre distributor invited Tyres & Accessories into Starco GB’s headquarters in Rugeley, Staffordshire.

T&A met managing director, Bob Cooper and account manager, Chris Royle, who explained that up till now roughly 90 per cent of Starco’s current business is OE related. When Bob Cooper joined the company 12 years ago sales amounted to somewhere in the region of £1.5 million a year. According to Bob Cooper, sales this year will be approaching £20 million, a clear demonstration that the OE-facing part of the business has served Starco well. In the future Starco GB is aiming to generate “very significant growth in the industrial tyre aftermarket” in addition to this, perhaps as much as doubling sales generated in this side of the business. Bob Cooper was keen to stress that the company has no plans to reduce its OE-focus. On the contrary, the strategy is to grow this part of the business too.

With offices right across Europe (plus one as far east as Kazakhstan and another in the US), you can’t help wondering if the decision to increase aftermarket focus is part of a pan-European move? In short the answer is both yes and no.

Some of the businesses Denmark-based Starco operates around Europe (take the company’s German branch for example) run on quite different strategies to the UK operation. In Germany the OE/replacement breakdown is the mirror image of what it is over here – roughly 90 per cent aftermarket sales and 10 per cent OE supply. So while Bob Cooper points out that there is an overarching drive to broaden the group’s base in general terms, the company is not in any hurry to change what is already working well.

Starco takes on GlobeStar forklift range

In addition to its existing range of Kenda pneumatic tyres and its own brand offering, Starco recently took on the GlobeStar solid forklift tyre range. With all the leading forklift tyre manufacturers feeling the pinch of increased raw material costs, and most now asking for raw material surcharges the cost/performance balance is as important to customers as ever. Not surprisingly the GlobeStar range is said to excel in this respect, offering good performance for a competitive price. At the economy end of the market, Starco have also brought in the Performer line for those seeking industrial tyres at a lower price entry point.

The new industrial aftermarket team, led by Chris Wilson, is comprised of three sales staff with backing from all the other departments of their business. At any given time, Starco’s Rugeley warehouse holds roughly £3 million of stock. Up to a third of this can be described as industrial, including brands such as TVS, Gommasol and Marangoni. The rest of the stock comprises of ATV, wheelbarrow, turf, high speed trailer, small materials handling and other specialist wheels and tyres.

Starco GB has also invested in high speed automated tyre fitting machinery, which allows the company to send more 12 to 16-inch tyre and wheel assemblies to OE customers than it ever could with man-power alone. The company has also invested in the construction of temperature controlled curing rooms in order for the company to expand the tyre-fill service it offers it’s customers.

Planning for the expansion of the industrial aftermarket side of the business began three years ago and the company has been operating in the wider industrial segment for around eight years now. So, if Starco’s acquisition of a new brand and “very significant” investment in stock is anything to go by, it is clear that the company is preparing for the long-term.

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