Duraturn continues developing business in UK
Yanchang Rubber introduces Neolin brand, new products
Reifen 2016 at the end of May marked the first time Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Rubber Co., Ltd., (Yanchang Rubber) has taken a stand at Europe’s leading tyre fair. The company invested in a significantly sized booth and Ms Zhang Dongyang, the managing director of Yanchang Rubber, led her international team into the event in the mid-German city of Essen, highlighting that the company’s European development will be conducted in line with a clear localization strategy
Tyres & Accessories’ latest meeting with the company comes six months after our last interview at Reifen China in Shanghai in November 2015. Since then Yanchang Rubber has completed the renaming of its European operation as Duraturn and established a European business development operation in London. Thinking back to the wider business environment at the time of our last meeting, there was much talk of a new golden era of business relations between China and the UK in general. Now the UK has opted to leave the European Union, it is not clear if the UK’s political transition will help or hinder the tyre company’s plans. Nevertheless, what was clear during our meeting in Germany was that Duraturn’s ambitions and momentum continues unabated.
In order to illustrate this point it is worth giving a few examples. As we have seen, since our last meeting with Dr Sean Yaliang Xu in November, Duraturn has established UK offices. Since then the firm has begun communicating the vision and values of the company in both the UK and Europe; has made a series of significant range adjustments in order to Europeanise it products; and has appointed key research and development personnel and developed a new brand.
Duraturn’s export drive has always rested on a localisation strategy. For the company this is a matter of experience as well as theory – Duraturn’s Dynacargo truck tyre range is becoming increasingly popular in US as a result of repackaging the brand and products for the North American business model. With this in mind, doing something similar in the UK and Europe was always Duraturn’s plan A. However, while the US model was only ever held us as an example, the importance of localisation for the specific and varied requirements of the European markets is even clearer still.
Yanchang Rubber appoints ex-Linglong PCR chief engineer
This is at least one of the reasons why Ms Zhang Dongyang recruited Professor Dong Maohua (who trained at South China University) as its head of passenger car tyre development. Prior to his appointment to work for Duraturn, Prof Dong was the passenger car radial (PCR) chief engineer at tyre manufacturer Shandong Linglong – a company well-known for its rapid product development and technological attainment abilities. Clearly the thinking behind Ms Zhang’s decision is to take the company’s product range to the next level.
Ms Zhang’s strategic move was fundamental to the latest generation car tyre product range Duraturn currently markets. Indeed, the technological know-how Prof Dong has brought with him is evident in the fact that the company sports VMI tyre builders, Fischer cutters and a wealth of other leading western tyre manufacturing machinery in its car tyre factory.
This point is also illustrated by the fact that the factory can now produce its Mozzo car tyre range in summer, winter, all-season and even run-flat applications. Meanwhile production lines are also capable of producing a range of different Travia SUV, 4×4 and light truck tyres.
New Neolin brand being introduced
As far as the company brand portfolio is concerned, it is clear that the eponymous Duraturn moniker is positioned as the flag brand. Then there’s the Dynacargo name, which has grown more popular especially in the USA. During the Reifen Show company representatives introduced the latest addition – Neolin. Neolin seeks to project brand values accessible to European customers and end-users alike, while also giving the company additional options in terms of distribution channels. So far the company hasn’t released any details of when this brand will hit the market, but it is clear that it will be a different tyre to the existing monikers and therefore not just a question of changing the sidewalls.
At this point it is worth putting the personnel and product developments into context. While Yanchang Petrochemical’s business obviously began in the oil sector, as it has grown it has also broadened to include synthetic rubber production capacity, rubber products manufacturing operations (including products aimed at the aerospace industry) and also a natural rubber plantation in Thailand.
Of course, the reason Yanchang Rubber established its rubber business alongside its existing petrochemical operations in Shaanxi was in order to better vertically integrate its business, giving its various branches the chance to innovate in different, but fundamentally connected fields. As other petrochemical firms have also found, the next step after establishing rubber production and plantations was to broaden out once more into the tyre sector. First the company began with truck and bus radial production and now the Yanchang facility is capable of product summer, winter, all-season and run-flat car, 4×4 and light truck tyres.
Shaanxi, where Duraturn Europe’s parent company is based, has strong connections to the Chinese automotive market, especially those firms operating in the West of the People’s Republic. And therefore there are attractive future possibilities available for the company moving forward.