One of the UK's leading tyre wholesalers, R. H. Claydon Ltd, suffered minimal fire damage at the end of last week at their Stockport, Cheshire warehouse. The fire started in an adjoining building belonging to another company and spread to the warehouse, but no stock was damaged and the sales division continues to operate normally.
September is show time in Frankfurt. This year we have just seen the IAA for cars and motorcycles, the 58th such event. Almost 1,200 exhibitors from 43 countries displayed the whole width and breadth of automotive progress on 225,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor exhibition space. The theme of this year’s exhibition, "Auto: Treffpunkt Zukunft" ("Car - Meeting-Place: The Future") must also be understood as the industry’s programme: Car manufacturers alone offered 51 world premières, eight European and 38 German premières, not counting the numerous innovations of vehicle component suppliers, the motor manufacturers’ development partners. Apart from new production-line cars, futuristic concept cars, motorcycles and special vehicles Frankfurt showed trailers, parts and accessories, tuning products, aids for vehicle maintenance, protective clothing, traffic guidance and information systems. Tyre manufacturers with IAA stands of their own were Michelin, Continental, Dunlop and Pneumant. The second part of the 58th IAA - the commercial vehicle side - will take place from 23rd to 30th September 2000 under the theme "Nutzfahrzeuge: Für alle auf Achse" ("Commercial Vehicles: For Everybody on the Move") and also be held at Frankfurt/Main. The organisation will also be in the hands of the Association of the Motor Manufacturing Industry (VDA).
Due to computer problems, the Goodyear blimp "Spirit of Akron" crashed in the United States. Fortunately, it descended very slowly, so that the crew suffered only minor injuries. Nobody on the ground was involved in the accident.
In an interview with the rather left-wing daily paper "Liberation" Edouard Michelin gave his comment on the so-called "Michelin Affair". On 8th September the group reported a 20 p.c. rise in its half-yearly profits while at the same time declaring that it wanted to shed 7,500 employees in European factories within three years. The Michelin boss attributes the unusually fierce public reaction, by French politicians in particular, to insufficient public discussion. It has to be possible, he argued, to take the right entrepreneurial measures in time to achieve a rapid improvement in productivity, which is 15 to 20 p.c. below that of the group’s main competitors, Bridgestone and Goodyear. And the only way to do that, he claimed, is through accelerated growth on the basis of a new sales policy and through job cuts. Edouard Michelin reminded his critics that in the last twenty years the group had twice been faced with extinction, that it had needed to lose 25,000 employees in France and in spite of that had issued only 186 dismissal notices. Asked about the "Lex Michelin" (a change of law to accommodate the "Michelin case", dealing with the application for state aid to facilitate social plans), Edouard Michelin pointed out that the group had indeed received a French state subsidy for its social plans in the past amounting to four or five billion francs, but that at the same time the French state had received 45 billion francs in social contributions, taxes and other levies. Today the group still makes 30 p.c. of total investments within France, he continued, and retains 30 p.c. of the production capacity in the country, although the domestic market takes only 15 p.c. of total sales. Though keen to dust off certain parts of the company, he said, he wants to preserve its culture, personality and customs. As the head of a "family business" he sees himself as "permanently accountable" and cannot afford not to make long-term plans, because he is only too well aware of having to defend his decisions also in five or ten years’ time. On the question of worldwide merger plans Edouard Michelin said that his company is in a position "to play an active part. Our gaze is directed towards Asia. Michelin has a talent for growth."
Goodyear has told bank analysts that it will close a large factory in Italy that produces six million tyres a year. Goodyear produced about 55 million tyres in Europe this year and intends to reduce the production capacity from 72 million tyres (after the Dunlop take-over) to about 62 million by 2002. After Goodyear's shares lost more than 40 per cent of their value, they announced plans to close more than one factory and increase production in the remaining European plants by introducing a seven day operation.
Tyres for the “King’s Class” – Bridgestone’s Formula One Engagement
It is a well-known fact that Bridgestone does not stint itself in its Formula One commitment. For instance: The number of tyres carted to every race is 2,640 in two different compounds for dry and three different compounds for wet weather. Together with the costs of research and development plus marketing/advertising (which definitely accounts for the highest expenditure) it may amount to a nine-figure sum. In this context one has to ask: Cui bono? Or: Why do the Japanese involve themselves in Formula One at all? The current market share of the tyre giant in Europe is estimated to be about twelve per cent, therefore leaving room for further growth. And what would be more suitable for a Far Eastern tyre group keen to catch up in the lucrative European market than its omnipresence in the most important motor racing event worldwide (only in USA Formula One is met with relatively little interest)? When all is said and done: twelve of the 16 races are run on European soil. Takeshi Uchiyama, Managing Director of BS/FS Europe, describes his company’s objective, "We are determined to raise our global brand awareness".To put it simply: If the Bridgestone logo is clearly visible every fortnight adorning streamers, bridges, vehicles, overalls, drivers’ caps and, last but not least, all the tyres, that must sooner or later penetrate the memory or consciousness of the mass media public. Ideally it also raises significantly the image of the brand as a low-profile quality tyre. And once this perception takes hold and people’s high opinion is tranferred to other segments, this reputation will not only benefit the high-performance segment but also other types of tyre.
From December to March, cars, light trucks, trailers and buses (up to 30 t) in Sweden must be fitted with M+S tyres. In the past, many motorists - particularly in the south of the country - drove on summer tyres all year round, especially on used cars or second family cars.
This is the answer: Michelin filed law-suit against Bandag
Michelin filed a lawsuit against Bandag for illegally restricting competition in the US-retread market. The law-suit contends that Bandag has engaged in anti-competitive practices, which create a monopoly for it in the sale and distribution of tire retread systems.
Continental Introduces Two New Winter Tyre Tread Patterns
For the launch of its two new winter tyre models, the "ContiWinterContact TS 780" and the transporter and van tyre "VancoWinter" at the beginning of October the Continental AG management chose a very special venue: Iceland. However, a blizzard that raged for days prevented practical tests of the new tyres on the selected glacier. Developers of winter tyres are always faced with the classic dilemma: Do they design for optimum grip on snow or on dry roads? The development of the TS 780 for vehicles of the compact and lower medium classes aimed at reducing the discrepancy between the two objectives. An important innovation is a sipe construction which tries to emulate the architecture of beehives with its honeycomb shape. According to the manufacturer, the honeycomb sipe has clear safety advantages when cornering on snow. A directional tread pattern and the latest silica compound technology are additional features responsible for the new tyre’s good driving characteristics in wintry conditions as well as on dry and wet roads. It is available in all European markets needing winter tyres, initially in 13 sizes from 145/80 R 13 75Q to 185/60 R 14 82T. The "VancoWinter" was specially developed for medium and heavy vans. Traction on ice and snow is provided by sipes which are incorporated in the tread blocks. To achieve a significant improvement over its predecessor, the "LMS 70", the VancoWinter’s sipes and blocks are twice as high. Its behaviour on icy roads is to be improved by distributing the pressure on the ground more evenly. The van tyre is immediately available, at first in nine sizes (from 185 R 14C to 195/65 R 16C).
Nokian Tyres has agreed to purchase up to 94 % of the ISKO-shares. ISKO is the largest Finnish Tyre wholesaler and retailer. As soon as the transaction has been completed Nokian Tyres will have the largest equity in "Nordic Europe" consisting of 117 depots with 750 employees in Scandinavia together with Estonia and Latvia.
Pirelli has published its figures for the first nine months of 1999. Turnover is up 15%. The Cables and Systems sector turnover was 2,805 million Euros (first nine months of 1998 2,036 million) while the Tyre Sector turnover was 1,917 million Euros (2,068 million). Gross operating profit was 489 million Euros (492 million) and consolidated operating profit was 231 million Euros (264 million).
Approximately 29 million winter tyres will be sold in Central Europe (i.e. without Scandinavia) this winter. In Germany alone the figure will be well in excess of 16 million units (55 p.c.). Germany’s motorists will spend about three billion marks this year on tyres and services when refitting their vehicles with winter tyres.
Rumours about Continental/Pirelli Joint Venture Nothing but Red Herrings?
Although a joint venture between Continental and Pirelli could make sense in the tyre sector, observers do not believe it. The Italians, in any case, deny it vehemently. While the German group is still recovering from the enormous effort of the Teves acquisition, the Italians are about to concentrate more on entering the real estate business. An extremely nervous reaction came from Pirelli Reifenwerke managers, who do not like such talk in the market, especially since they have enough to do looking after themselves. Sales boss Röske speaks in eloquent terms of the lustre of the Pirelli tyre brand that makes his team’s "eyes shine". The brand, he says, is stronger than "our customers sometimes want to give us credit for". In Röske’s opinion Continental may perhaps have tried to throw dust in people’s eyes to divert attention from a potential takeover by Bridgestone. This magazine rather thinks that Conti boss Kessel wants to avert the public gaze from talks with the telephone group Mannesmann, which is possibly ready to part with its automotive division.