‘Infinity is growing’: Euro-Tyre MD talks Infinity, Reach and the future
During a recent drifting event in The Netherlands, Frank van Leeuwen, managing director of Euro-Tyre, spoke about the relationship between his company and Infinity Tyres, their future together, and their combined approach to European legislation.
How did the relation with Infinity Tyres start?
The relationship with Infinity Tyres started in 2004. By then, we had had a long relationship with the Al Dobowi group because we had been selling different tyres for them. However in 2004, Surender Kandhari came to Venlo, in The Netherlands, and told us that he wanted to do something important with Infinity and asked if we were interested. Of course, we said yes. Infinity’s patterns then were totally different from the ones we have today. At first, they had the same patterns as Linglong tyres. But that changed very quickly and they introduced Infinity models 03, 04 and 05, their very own patterns.
Was it the first Chinese-made brand in your tyre range?
No. Before Infinity we had other brands made in China, although we didn’t stick to a specific one. Back then we never bought the same brand. However, when we started working with Infinity Tyres we decided that this brand would be the one; and we would try to develop it in the coming years. And we are still doing it now!
So, have you seen the difference between Infinity Tyres in 2004 and the ones in 2011?
Yes, definitely. I think you can definitely see the quality improvement of Infinity Tyres but I think all Chinese brands improved over the last four/five years because they have invested in technology to develop new tyres.
From the manufacturer’s perspective: what message have you received from Infinity regarding the new European legislation? And what are they doing to make sure they comply with this legislation?
It affected our sales in Germany tremendously. You can have big discussions about Reach compliance but we all know that Chinese manufacturers have two product lines: one that is Reach compliant and another that is non-Reach compliant, because they only need Reach compliance in Europe. Of course, you cannot stop some tyres from coming in from outside of Europe through parallel business channels because this is a common procedure. If those tyres were the ones chosen to be tested, what can you say? The test was probably right, but it really harmed our business because all the official dealers have Reach-compliant tyres and they tested a tyre that was imported illegally.
And Infinity carried out an independent test to prove their tyres were Reach compliant.
Yes they did; that is why I am so happy that Jorge Crespo (Infinity’s European general manager) carried out an independent test so we could go back to the costumers with the test’s results. Whatever small problems we may still have will soon disappear because it is obvious that Infinity tyres are Reach compliant.
Do you think there are many differences between Infinity and other Chinese-made brands?
Yes. We’ve had great results with Infinity’s 03 and 04 models. Infinity 05 is doing well and we are very glad that Infinity Tyres is improving their patterns. We are happy to carry Infinity…in our portfolio because we have [had] a lot of positive response with them, especially winter tyres…
What do you think Infinity’s value proposition is?
Infinity Tyres have modern-looking European patterns. Quality is at a good level as well. You have to compare good level with the money your pay for the product and Infinity is really good value for money.
What will be Euro-Tyre’s relationship with Infinity Tyres be in the future?
As good as it has been in the past. We have a very good product and a very good relationship with the Kandhari family. Actually, I can say we are all one family, Euro-Tyre, the Kandharis, and the London office as well. The brand is growing and there are only positive news for the future, there will be some new patterns and an extended 4×4 and winter ranges.
Are you going to count on Infinity Tyres in the future for events such as the Drifting exhibition that recently took place in Venlo (Holland)?
Definitely. Maybe there will be some other marketing strategies that we will do in coordination with Jorge Crespo. We have some good ideas for the German market, like the tyre guarantee. We are also talking about having a tyre warranty that will depend on the depth of the pattern and the use of the tyre. I think there are many marketing strategies which we can create so we can position Infinity Tyres differently from all other Chinese-made tyres. I do believe that with Jorge Crespo there are lots of opportunities for improvement and growth in the coming years.