Independent tyre distributors building ships for choppy waters ahead

Michelin’s purchase of Germany’s biggest wholesaler, Ihle Baden-Baden (pictured), and the UK’s biggest online tyre retailer, provide an ominous sign of a quickly changing paradigm for independent wholesalers and their customers

In October 2014’s Wholesale feature, Tyres & Accessories asked whether Europe’s independent tyre wholesalers still have a future in the context of the German company Ihle Baden Baden’s failure and subsequent sale to Michelin. Pointing to the lightening of the business due to such factors as the price transparency offered by e-commerce (and online marketing) we wondered whether the value of the relationship between customers and their suppliers had become more tenuous, relying only on price and reliability of deliveries. Should these two considerations become the only weapons in a wholesaler’s arsenal, T&A suggested that their role becomes more akin to a specialised freight forwarder.

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