With sales and profits up, Bond plans UK and international expansion
Based just North of York in Pocklington, the relatively small size of this North Yorkshire town belies the current scale and influence of the tyre wholesale operation it is home to. Bond International was founded in 1966 by Reg Bond when the qualified automotive engineer suffered an industrial injury that blinded him in one eye. In spite of the incident, Bond demonstrated great vision by investing his ensuing compensation into expanding his business to incorporate tyre wholesale. Now the company is firmly in the top flight of UK tyre wholesale operations and has purportedly risen as high as number three in recent years (see next month’s Wholesale Feature for an update on the current state of UK tyre wholesaling). With an overseas office already located in Singapore, now Bond is considering its European options, while pointing out that there are still opportunities in the UK. On top of this the company recently launched its first foray into the online marketplace, which executive hope will – over time – develop a whole new source of business for it and its retail customers alike.
The first development of this year was on the international side of the business. It came when, at the Tyrexpo Asia exhibition in Singapore, Reg Bond launched the latest addition to Bond International’s family of companies. Admiral Tyres (Asia) Ltd was incorporated with a view to distributing the company’s Admiral private brand Admiral to markets across the World. According to the company, the initial range features a portfolio of 100 fitments covering “all the popular sizes” plus “an ever increasing Winter range.”
In addition there are plans to launch another company (to be called Admiral tyres UK Ltd) later this year. The controlling directors of this business will all be Bond family members, a decision designed to ensure that family business continues to carry on the work started some 40 years ago by Reg Bond, that is to build a truly international tyre distribution business serving tyre markets around the world.
A year ago company founder Reg Bond was diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, after months of treatment, the father of the family business is regularly seen back behind his desk in the office as he was on the occasion of Tyres & Accessories’ last visit. The company’s management told T&A that Bond is now “fighting fit.”
Currently the firm has around 250 staff. Together with the directors they have been working hard to build a business of real influence in the UK market and beyond. At its core it is a family business and, with four of Reg Bond’s children responsible for various aspects of the business together with the foundation of the Admiral UK limited company, it is clear that this is an ethos that will remain.
One significant recent change in the leadership of the company came with the appointment of Goodyear veteran and former Kumho UK managing director Steve Tidmarsh; first as a consultant in 2009 and more recently as finance director. But this appointment too is indicative of the close-knit working environment the business has fostered – Reg Bond and Steve Tidmarsh’s relationship goes back some 20 years.
Turnover up 9 per cent, pre-tax profits up 160 per cent
As has already been mentioned, Steve Tidmarsh initially joined Bond as a management consultant with the task of helping to restructure the business to support the growth required by managing director and owner Reg Bond. As a result of the management changes undertaken since then and now under the new title of finance director, Bond International reports has seen turnover grow by 9 per cent with pre-tax profits (EBIT) increasing by 160 in the 2010 financial year.
According to the company, this has been achieved by “securing a more balanced product offering and stringent cost cutting” but, crucially – as Tidmarsh pointed out to T&A – at the same time streamlining the organizational structure of the business “without harming service levels”.
2011 has seen this growth pattern continue despite the UK market taking a dip in sales in all sectors company representatives report that they see no reason why this would not continue for the rest of 2011.