Stapleton’s shift to 100% distribution
When Itochu completed its purchase of the UK’s largest tyre retail operation, Kwik Fit in June 2011, the corporation underlined the separation of the retailer and its wholesale operation, Stapleton’s. A year on, and the latter company has renewed its focus, in its words; the STS, Tyre Pros and Central branded shops are no longer within Stapleton’s remit, meaning that the UK’s largest tyre distributor now has a clear single focus on distribution. “By taking our own retail operations out of the Stapleton’s arena this year we’ve been able to concentrate all our investment, effort and expertise on delivering a doubly effective response to our retail customers’ requirements, building those needs into every strategic move we make to offer real, tangible benefits to our customers’ business,” says Stapleton’s managing director, Yutaka Kimbara.
While the reorganisation certainly appears to be a logical step for Itochu, Stapleton’s has emphasised its distribution customer feedback as an important part of its “working for the customer” philosophy.
Stapleton’s says it is committed to fostering feedback from customers – making sure retailers’ thoughts, opinions and suggestions are heard and acted upon at a management level. The company’s renewed focus this year on distribution is, it says, a prime example of that philosophy in action.
Another, more immediately visible effect of the renewed focus includes fulfilling the need for more frequent deliveries; Stapleton’s recently added 30 new vans to its 300-strong national fleet, allowing it to create more delivery routes across London and the Midlands and to increase drop frequency substantially.
This was also reinforced in the North-East by the integration of North Eastern Tyre and Exhaust (NETE) – bought in 2011 – which brought Stapleton’s total to 14 warehouses and distribution points around the UK, increasing national coverage. The establishment of Stapleton’s Birmingham warehouse with its sophisticated picking systems and experienced sales team has also contributed to the drive for ever faster turnaround times.
The recently revamped ProfitLink 2 online ordering system has drop down menus, stock and pricing information and real-time account management facilities, but is now also tackling labelling. Since the EU said it would be a legal requirement to show proper energy labelling on all new passenger car and truck tyres sold after 1 November, it has worked to create a system that provides its ProfitLink customers with the necessary information for every one of their profiled SKUs. Where applicable, all tyre label information will be available to view on screen and/or download.
The design will allow users to filter each size by label characteristic and sort by grade, for example users will only need two clicks to identify all “A” rated “Wet Grip” products available in any particular size. Stapleton’s head of range planning and marketing, Stephen Childs said the company has “prepared [ourself] to support our customers… ProfitLink continues to evolve and has become more than just an online ordering system.”
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