Davison Talks to Tyrepress.com About the Dunlop High Performance Centre
Tyrepress.com reported the opening of the Dunlop High Performance Centre earlier in the year. To follow up on the launch and to discuss Goodyear Dunlop's plans for the new retail innovation, we visited the new Centre to speak with Mark Davison, Goodyear Dunlop’s consumer director.
“We have a strong existing network with Goodyear Dunlop Approved Dealers and the rapidly expanding HiQ Franchise network. However, research and feedback told us that there was a gap in the marketplace to develop a niche group of premium stores in partnership with customers who focus on the ultra-high performance market. This is the area of the market where our Dunlop brand marketing investment is focused,” Davison says. Goodyear Dunlop’s involvement with the High Performance Centre concept, he told T&A, goes as far as “deciding the look and feel of the stores and where they open”, with the decision coming under the remit of Davison and his team: The stores are “primarily a marketing exercise to drive the Dunlop image forward,” he states.
“With the High Performance Centres – and it’s not going to be a big network – we’re looking to modernise and drive forward the brand image. So we’re looking really to open – at the most – over the next three to five years, a maximum of 20 Centres in areas of the country where there is a market.” Davison is confident the stores can be placed to offer potential consumers a store with a drive of “up to 45 minutes”, which the company’s research suggests is realistic for the service offered and the customers Goodyear Dunlop expects to attract. “We pretty much know the areas of the country we’re going to be looking at.
“You’re trying to appeal to people who will pay a premium for quality service, convenience, being able to sit here and work or play on the PlayStation with a nice cup of coffee… More upmarket service offered at a premium in other industries, and that’s what we’re trying to do in the tyre industry.” The message focuses on the idea of a “strategic fit”, in Davison’s words, and Tyres Northampton ticks all the boxes – it was “going to operate under a similar business strategy already”, according to Davison and Dunlop saw the opportunity to ally its brand marketing through retail with an existing centre.
Will the new Centres come from the existing Goodyear Dunlop Approved Partner network? “Not necessarily – within our current network there may be customers who think they have a potentially good location or who are thinking of opening a new location. But quite equally it might be someone outside our network… The key determinant is whether the area of the country is right.”
“We’ve started some discussions with some customers about where the second and third Centres might be, but nothing has been agreed yet. I think this reflects… our being very careful about who we partner with and how many we open, because we need to be sure we select the right partners and that we can be sure internally that we can manage the number of High Performance Centres we open in the network.”
And who will finance the renovation of these stores? “It’s flexible – we will contribute,” says Davison, noting that the return on the investment would be expected in both the volume of tyres sold and through the marketing opportunities the Centres offer the Dunlop brand. That said, the Centres will be able to stock rival brands; Davison says that the company would prefer the fitment of Dunlop products “if there is a Dunlop tyre available for the type of fitment the customer is looking for”, but “If the customer wants to fit another brand, then I think there needs to be a reasonable range available.”
Dunlop’s return as title sponsor to the British Touring Car Championship also illustrates some of the marketing thinking behind the store’s design, where motorsport iconography plays a big part in the design; Davison describes it as “trying to blow off a little of the dust that comes with ‘motorsport heritage’ and make it modern in a refreshing way.”