GiTi Tire is looking to increase its market presence in the truck tyre segment by implementing a TBR service network. The company has since 2006 built up a comprehensive truck and bus tyre product portfolio incorporating two premium quality brands – GT Radial and Primewell – both of which have been QS9000, ISO9001 and TS16949 accredited and are specifically designed and manufactured to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s European commercial vehicle operators. The entire TBR range is carefully selected to ensure the correct pattern is available for each application: regional, long haul, mixed service or municipal. In fact, such is the growth of the company’s sales presence in both TBR and PCR that two strategic business units have been formed to cope with the demand.
Veyance Technologies Inc., exclusive manufacturer of Goodyear Engineered Products, has appointed Joseph Gingo, chairman and CEO of A. Schulman Inc., to its governing board. The election of Mr. Gingo increases the size of Veyance’s board to seven.
“Joe’s broad experience includes leading our business ten years ago when we were a division of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.,” said Veyance president and CEO Tim Toppen in a statement. “He fully understands our customer-focused, market-back business philosophy and the importance of innovative products and services.”
July saw all the leading tyre manufacturers report lower than expected earnings as a knock-on effect of high raw material prices and lower new vehicle demand. Everyone saw this coming. The 11.3 billion euro “sneaking” bid ball bearing maker Schaeffler Group pitched to buy Continental AG was distinctly less predictable. In the days that followed Continental’s management went on the defensive and cried foul to financial regulator Bafin, making what had up till then been the largest takeover bid in Europe into the largest hostile takeover the continent has seen this year.
As an increasing number of voices speak out in favour of the proposed Conti/Schaeffler merger, Continental AG executives have called in a number of high profile investment banks to advise it on how best to defend its position. The most recent addition to this team is Deutsche Bank, which joins Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan as advisors.
The strategy behind the defensive manoeuvre appears to have two key objectives: to wrest complete control out of the clutches of the rapidly advancing Schaeffler; and to raise the suitor’s bid. Germany’s Handelsblatt reported that Conti chief executive, Manfred Wennemer told board members 89.74 euros per share (roughly 30% higher than the Schaeffler’s current 70.12 euros per share bid) is a ‘fair market price,’ for the tyre and automotive supplier. Other sources quote board members as saying 90 to 100 euros a share would be better. Could this be the target level the defence team will be seeking to achieve? And if so, how can Conti defend its position?
Approximately £90 million is said to be earmarked for Qingdao Yellow Sea Rubber to assist it move production to a new facility. This money is to come from controlling company China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina), and the move of production from its headquarters to an industrial park will allow an increase of all-steel radial capacity to 1.8 million units per annum in 2008, and when its semi-steel radial production moves later the overall annual capacity in the facility will be 3 million units. Additional all steel and semi-steel capacity will be added, with all construction expected to be completed by the end of next year.
HiQ has unveiled plans to accelerate the companys franchise offer by transferring 109 existing company-owned stores into 15 regional zones for regional as well as national investment. The news came in parallel with the launch of HiQs sponsorship of this years British Touring Car Championship. Company representatives told Tyres & Accessories that this seven figure motorsport investment represents the single largest marketing investment Goodyear Dunlop has committed to the HiQ brand.
In a further twist, HiQ managing director Neil Burrows announced that he and three members of the management group are interested in investing into a significant part of the network themselves, demonstrating they really are willing to put their money where their mouths are regarding the franchises development. Therefore, in the interests of transparency, Neil Burrows and the other three as yet unnamed managers will be assigned to special projects (such as managing the BTCC sponsorship deal) within the Goodyear Dunlop group.
The news that Goodyear Dunlop is effectively franchising-off 109 of its retail outlets also goes some way to further explaining the recent decision to transfer former Goodyear Dunlop Commercial Director, Robin Sharpe, to “special projects.” With Burrows team’s decision to bid for HiQ in mind, it now appears that Sharpe will manage the HiQ team until the final announcement regarding the franchising of the HiQ equity branches has been announced.
Goodyear Dunlop representatives told T&A that the jobs of all those involved are secure and, in the event that their bid is not successful, they will be free to return to their former positions. The company will be unveiling details of its nationwide franchising programme on 31 March, with the definitive structure following in the summer.
At the time of the announcement Goodyear Dunlop Managing Director Mark Brickhill stated: “The fact that Neil and his team wish to invest in HiQ is a signal of the confidence that management have in the future success of HiQ. However, it is vital that we have complete independence and transparency during the franchise application period, which is why we have appointed Robin to lead the HiQ team during the next few weeks.”
“There are huge opportunities in the vehicle servicing market due to the lifting of restrictions on who can carry out servicing work on vehicles without affecting warranties. This, coupled with aggressive new product development plans from Goodyear and Dunlop, means that HiQ is in a strong position to grow significantly over the coming years.”
The total number of HiQ outlets nationwide as of February 2008 stands at approximately 120. The three-year plan unveiled last year is to more than double this number by 2010. The target now is for 60 more retail franchisees to have joined the network by the end of 2008.
Neil Burrows has previously stated that the company is initially interested in attracting franchisees in the North West and within the M25. While this is still true, the strategy for 2008 is also to fill gaps in the market. For example, at the time of going to press, there wasn’t a single HiQ outlet in Norfolk. “Longer term we are not limiting ourselves to 250 outlets,” Burrows commented, explaining that in the future retail outlets would be run by a combination of single centre owners and multi-store franchisees. The example of one franchisee in Cumbria exemplifies the way a multi-store franchise might operate. This franchisee is exclusively responsible for HiQ sales in the Lake District and as such he has the opportunity to enter into dialogue with the company regarding development of further HiQs in the area.
Over a year since HiQ relaunched itself as a car and van only tyre specialist, plans to upgrade the look and feel of the network continue to progress. 30 outlets are already refurbished in what are still the early stages of three to five year upgrade plan. HiQ’s novel use of the Internet as a sales tool is also said to be expanding following the system’s soft launch last August. While sales generated through the online system still represents “less than 5 per cent” of overall sales, this is expected to increase significantly as the company adds additional tyre brands and servicing options to the system.
Seven-figure sponsorship investment
While the launch of HiQ’s maiden year as title sponsor of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) may have been upstaged to some extent by the news of the radical changes within HiQ’s ownership structure, it would be a mistake to underestimate the significance of this deal.
“The HiQ business is a core part of Goodyear Dunlop’s plan for profitable growth and [the] HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship launch is evidence that we are continuing to invest to build HiQ as a vital channel to market for us. The HiQ network growth will be through franchising. Our existing franchises have been tremendously successful and there is significant interest from existing and potential new franchisees in joining us to invest in HiQ,”
During the BTCC/HiQ launch press conference Neil Burrows explained that he first entered talks with the BTCC series director and administrator on the subject of a sponsorship deal roughly a year ago. According to Burrows, the arrangement works at every level and the partnership “really has legs” for future development.
One example of this is the running of race evenings in outlets near race meetings, featuring racing stars and experts. The first of these will take place at the HiQ in Grays, Essex, and is expected to present a strong PR and promotion opportunity for the brand. Apparently the only problem with this kind of event is there isn’t enough races in the season to cover all 120 HiQs.
Another example is the discount promotion HiQ is currently running, with HiQ offering discounts of up to 20 per cent on “race track inspired” Dunlop tyres at stores across the country as a way of celebrating the tyre retail chain’s first year as sponsor of the British Touring Car Championship.
“We are delighted to be sponsoring the MSA British Touring Car Championships. It is a huge development for HiQ and we want to share our delight with customers. We have agreed to knock 20 per cent off a range of brands,” HiQ managing director Neil Burrows commented, adding: “The BTCC has proved that it can deliver high value of advertising worth, with live ITV coverage, the biggest UK motor sport attendance figures and broad media exposure. It gives HiQ a perfect opportunity to promote our unique offering as we re-launch and grow our network across the UK.”
Former Goodyear Division Forms China Joint Venture
Veyance Technologies Inc., formerly Goodyear Tire & Rubber’s Engineered Products division, has entered into a joint venture with Ruiyuan Rubber and Plastics Co. Ltd. to make conveyor belts in Yanzhou, China. Veyance said the new entity, Shandong Aneng Conveyor Belt & Rubber Co. Ltd., is the largest manufacturer of conveyor belts in China, with 20 production lines producing more than 12 million square metres of conveyor belts each year.
Vredestein (UK) Ltd managing director, Bert Stellinga, left the company on Friday 7 September. According to company officials, there are no plans to appoint an acting managing director and are no immediate candidates for the newly vacated position. Tyre & Accessories understands sales and administrative roles will be headed up from within the existing team while a suitable replacement is found.
Nokian Tyres has officially confirmed the rumours that it is negotiating a factory project in Kazakhstan. The company reports that negotiations are ongoing, and as of August 24 no agreements have been made. Nokian aims to finalise the negotiation project before the end of the year.
According to previous information supplied to Tyres & Accessories, Nokian tyres may be manufactured at the US$200 million factory being built in the national capital by Kazakhstan’s Ordabasy Corporation. This new plant will have an annual capacity of 4 million tyres when in full production.
With so much recent media coverage of Hankook’s European activities and new state of the art facility in Hungary, it is easy to forget that Europe is only one market in which the South Korean tyremaker has plans. And while those living in Europe will naturally pay more attention to activities taking place close to home, Hankook is by no means neglecting its Asian markets, and is in fact paying particular attention to China. Recently Tyres & Accessories was given the opportunity to interview Hankook global CEO Suh Seung Hwa and find out more about the company’s aims for the large and still growing Chinese tyre market.
“China is a vibrant market,” declared Mr. Suh when asked if Hankook’s recent activity in Europe signalled any shift in priorities. He added that the tyremaker expected a large increase in sales from its Chinese operations in 2007. Between 2002 and 2004 the Chinese tyre market experienced what Mr. Suh called “explosive growth,” and by 2006 the passenger car tyre market was still increasing by more than 15 per cent per year, the largest growth of any market the tyremaker participates in.
Since several years Chinese tyre manufacturers are active on the European tyre market. Although their commitment has been increasing over these years until today there has not been a tyre manufacturer from China that has founded its own representation in Europe which is for example different in the US. Giti Tire Europe B.V. is established in The Netherlands and does not only represent Giti Tire from China but also Gajah Tunggal from Indonesia which belongs to the same corporate group. In doing this, Giti Tire Europe acts as a link between wholesalers such as Romney International, Reifen Gundlach or Doumerc Pneus and the tyre manufacturers Giti Tire China and Gajah Tunggal. Secondly, it acts as an antenna into the European market that detects and collects information and forwards them to China and Indonesia. And thirdly, it is assigned to increase the general coverage of the European markets. Under the direction of well-experienced managers from throughout the continent Giti Tire Europe in particular looks towards the East where markets have an excellent chance to be developed and it also looks towards European OE customers.
Carlyle Group Closes Purchase of Goodyear Division
On 1 August global private equity firm The Carlyle Group announced it has closed its purchase of Goodyear’s Engineered Products Division. The transaction, valued at US$1.475 billion, was announced on March 23, 2007. Through a long-term license agreement, products will continue to carry the Goodyear brand, while the legal name of the company has been changed to Veyance Technologies, Inc.
Veyance Chief Executive Officer Timothy R. Toppen said, We are excited about this new chapter in our history and we look forward to a strong and fruitful partnership with The Carlyle Group.
Toppen said customers will continue to see the Goodyear Engineered Products brand they have known since 1898. In addition, we have adopted a new corporate name – Veyance Technologies, Inc. It combines two critical components of our daily operations. Our products convey materials, fluids or power from one location to another and are designed to optimise performance for customers and end users.
(Akron/Tire Review – The International News (Sri Lanka) One of the world’s biggest solid tyremakers is trying to double its turnover and turn Sri Lanka into a key exporter of rubber products.Raw rubber has been the country’s second largest export commodity after tea, but a Belgian-Sri Lanka joint venture is trying to re-invent the way wheels are made and make the island a global hub for tyres.
Solideal Loadstar is one of Sri Lanka’s best-kept secrets and its biggest exporter, accounting for just over two per cent of the nation’s near seven billion dollar export earnings. “In the world market, we now control 20 per cent in the solid tyre and about five per cent in the industrial tyre markets,” chairman Nihal Jinasena told AFP.
“Any fool can make a tyre,” said Jinasena, whose family controls 40 per cent of Solideal Loadstar. “What is difficult is to keep innovating, penetrate markets worldwide and to support your sales.”
Automotive Skills has won a major bid for a Women & Work project for the UK retail motor industry – part of a wider funded Women & Work Sector Pathways Initiative. The £10 million initiative is designed to encourage women to consider careers in traditionally male-dominated professions. With an average of less than 20 per cent of the motor industry workforce made up by women, one of the key challenges facing the sector is how to attract a more diverse workforce which can contribute to increased productivity and performance and develop new ideas and improved methods of working.
Lassa, Brisa, Bridgestone and Sabanci – tyres from Turkey to the world
With unit sales of 7.06 million expected for 2006, a domestic replacement market share of 26 per cent and thriving export sales, no wonder Lassa producer Brisa is expanding its manufacturing and warehousing headquarters. As Brisa (Bridgestone Sabanci Tyre Manufacturing and Trading Inc) continues the $176 million production expansion programme it started at its Izmit plant in Turkey in 2004, Tyres & Accessories went to see how the plans are developing and visit some of the company’s retail outlets in Istanbul.