Vredestein: Two years with Bert Stellinga at the helm in the UK
Bert Stellinga has now been installed at Vredesteins Wellingborough UK headquarters for two years. In that time Vredestein have launched new high performance tyres and taken steps to develop the brand awareness in the enthusiasts market in the UK, whilst at the same time developing their share of the agricultural tyre market. It has very much been steady as she goes for the Dutch tyre manufacturer.
Bert Stellinga told T&A that the UK is a major market for Vredestein and that progress was being made in both the UK and the Irish markets. However, to get a better picture of the company it was important to understand the wider position of Vredestein as an organisation.
2003 saw Vredesteins year on year sales on the increase and the company managed to record a profit, very close to that earned in 2002. During the year there was also a stock reduction exercise which released funds and made the whole business more profitable. The fact that Vredestein is making a profit, says Stellinga, enables the company to invest in people and product, to develop new services. For instance, in some markets in the European Union we have our new Internet Ordering facility in place. This allows customers to access stock records, place orders and arrange delivery on line, at their convenience. The strength of being in profit also allows us to develop our marketing with advertising and of course attendance at events such as the Autosport International Exhibition.
One of the biggest developments for the company last year was the return to private ownership. Having removed the obligation to the shareholders that put the company in a position where it could increase its flexibility and invest in research and development. At present we are in a transitional period but the move will have positive consequences in the future. This will be seen in the investment in new lines this year with a new winter tyre arriving later in 2004.
One question that arises about Vredestein is its ability to stand alone. Other smaller manufacturers are working together with off-take agreements to fill capacity, or enable ranges to be extended. There is a deal of technology exchange and shared product development. As an independent, manufacturer can Vredestein continue to develop its own products as a stand alone business?
Vredestein is very much a self contained operation and I dont think that we would envisage such close co-operation with competitors. Our own R&D facility swallows a considerable element of the finance budget but we need to develop products that the market appreciates and wants. We produce niche products that appeal to specialised markets – Sportrac and Ultrac are the only designer tyres in the world and our cooperation with Giugiaro Design is proving to be very successful, for instance. We do not need vast volumes because we are selling premium quality products where we can maintain good prices for everyone in the chain. We do not deal with OE in passenger car tyres, so we can survive on our limited capacity. Our OE market is strictly agricultural and again, we offer a premium brand tyre to a specialised market, says Bert Stellinga. We are determined to go it alone and I cant see any reason why we shouldnt.
Goodyear Dunlop has been chosen as tyre supplier to UK police forces for the next three years. Goodyear first secured the contract in 1994 and the new deal means that around 100,000 Goodyear and Dunlop tyres will be fitted to police cars, vans and motorbikes for each of the next three years.
It was in August last year that Tim Parker (48) was named as the new Chief Executive Officer of Kwik-Fit, following the purchase of the company from Ford by CVC Capital Partners for a reported £330 million.
Ashley Croft, previously Managing Director of Stapletons Tyre Services until October of last year, has joined Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) as Director. His prime responsibilities at Micheldever will be the Wholesale and Logistics development of the business.
Kirkby Tyres is a major wholesaler in the agricultural sector and is increasingly turning towards that market to develop its business. Kirkby Tyres has been around for a long time, almost 50 years in fact. In that time the business has seen many changes but through all the changes it remains in the hands of the Rosenthal family, with Gordon Rosenthal, grandson of the founder Joe Rose at the helm.The company started as a casings collector and dealer, before developing into wholesaling. When the wholesaling of new tyres outgrew the casing side, the company made the decision to concentrate on new tyre distribution. Gordon Rosenthal took over from his father, Leslie Rosenthal, as Managing Director in 1980. Gordon is now Chairman, with Dave Dorrity joining the company in 1999 as Managing Director.Kirkby Tyres operates with three depots to cover the British Isles. The head office is at Liverpool and there is a depot in Perth, Scotland which offers a very similar stock profile to that in Liverpool, though the demand for high performance and premium car tyres is stronger north of the border. Ireland is covered from Dublin by Kirkby Tyres (Ireland) Ltd and in addition to the full range offered in the UK is the Irish agent for Ohtsu/Falken, and is the sole distributor of Wolfrace and Smiths alloy wheels in Ireland. The Group has a turnover in excess of 16 million pounds and employs 61 staff. It is worth noting that the breakdown of the business puts the agricultural sector at 45 per cent of the Groups turnover, truck at 35 per cent, and car and earthmover at five per cent each.
When Ian Wilson retires from his post of managing director of Vredestein UK at the end of March, he will be replaced by Bert Stellinga who has been with the company since 1994 and is currently the companys export manager. Bert will take up the post on 1 April.
Dunlop Ceases Truck Tyre Manufacture At Birmingham
Dunlop Tyres UK announced today that it will cease truck tyre manufacturing at its Birmingham factory. 650 jobs from a total workforce of 1,700 will be affected. Car, light truck, motor sport and racing tyres will still be made at the plant. Dunlop says the move is part of a Europe-wide rationalisation process as a result of excess capacity in the European tyre industry and the current market situation.
The Financial Times has published its annual list of the top 500 global companies, ranked by market capitalisation. The only tyre company in the world list is Bridgestone, at position number 300. In the list of the top 500 European companies, there are three; Michelin (304), Pirelli (311) and Continental (482).
Ford has announced that car production will end at its Dagenham plant by 2002, with the loss of 1,900 jobs. Dagenham is Fords largest UK factory, where the Fiesta and Courier vans are built. Ford also announced that 500 new jobs would be created at Dagenham over an unspecified period in the engine manufacturing operations.
On 11th November, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) announced a new tyre exhibition for the UK. The show (as yet unnamed) will run alongside the Automotive Trade Show at Birminghams NEC between 29th April and 2nd May, 2001. The SMMT says that it makes good business sense for tyres to be a part of an aftermarket exhibition.
One of the UKs 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.
The Kwik-Fit group plans to grow from its present 2,000 centres to a total of 5,000 centres by the year 2010. This is made possible due to the financial backing of car giant Ford, said Sir Tom Farmer recently in a key-note speech in England.