A couple of weeks after the end of the UK’s second lockdown, Tyres & Accessories spoke with Micheldever Tyre Services wholesale director Graham Mitchell. Since Mitchell was part of the panel in our inaugural “Kickstarting your tyre business” webinar in May 2020 at the end of the first lockdown, we thought it would be good to catch up at the end of the year and compare the differences between the first and second lockdowns. In short, while many shops closed during the first lockdown, the vast majority were open for business during the second. We also discussed 2020 as a whole and looked forward to 2021.
The fourth session of the virtual Tyre Industry Conference centred on tyre recycling and the circular economy in the year of coronavirus. Joined by the Tyre Recovery Association’s secretary general Peter Taylor OBE and Mark Murfitt, the managing director of the UK’s largest tyre recycler, Murfitts Industries, our discussion focused on issues affecting collection and processing of end of life tyres in the UK, the impact of the pandemic, the damage caused by non-compliance, and future developments in tyre recycling. The UK’s tyre recycling sector witnessed a number of investments in 2020 from companies such as the newly formed Norwegian outfit Wastefront’s intention to build a pyrolysis facility in Sunderland and the UK’s Powerhouse Energy Group’s Cheshire DMG syngas plant. So noticeable was this trend that Tyrepress published its first ever Digital Feature based largely on the trend – a magazine-style online feature collecting the latest news from the segment in one place. The interest in this unglamorous but vital segment would perhaps represent a surprise to some, but several developments led to this flurry of activity.
It has been nearly two years since the Goodyear brand’s reintroduction to motorsport in Europe, and it is fair to say that operating in a pandemic was not part of the plan when this brand strategy was set out. Tyres & Accessories spoke to Ben Crawley, Goodyear motorsport director EMEA, about his experiences of the 2020 season. Goodyear re-entered European motorsport almost two years ago. While the brand on a global level has “never really been out of motorsport,” bearing in mind its six continuous decades of NASCAR in the USA, Crawley tells T&A that the thinking behind Goodyear’s reentry in more global series “fits into a wider brand rejuvenation” strategy. “We know we have this fantastic legacy and history in racing, and we want to be able to use that to reengage and provide some excitement for the brand and how we communicate the brand with consumers.” The motorsport strategy also coincided with Goodyear’s introduction of ultra-ultra-high performance (UUHP) Eagle F1 Supersport tyres, and “the natural synergies that come with high performance tyres for the road and racing.” Beyond the new product range, the “brand rejuvenation strategy includes the Blimp, racing, and broader advertising and marketing partnerships,” Crawley adds. Subscribers can view the video of this interview in the full version of this article.
Digitisation has been an extremely important trend in 2020, to say the least. Due to the restrictions implemented by global governments to combat the spread of Covid-19, the use of technology to perform all sorts of basic business functions has never been as widespread in its usage. While tyre fitting businesses have been spared enforced closure with their rightful designation as an essential service, the implementation of solid digital systems to assist operational and marketing functions has been vital – more so than ever before. Tyres & Accessories used one digital system with which many are now intimately acquainted – Microsoft Teams – to speak to the commercial director of tyre business software systems provider CAM, Steve Daly, about how the company has supported this increased digitisation, as well as the general growth in companies employing CAM’s solutions, such as e-jobsheet and Fitter-Force. This interview is also available as a video to subscribers below.
On 23 November, Oxford Dictionaries declared that “unprecedented” is the word of year. Normally the world famous English language experts choose just one word to sum up the preceding 12 months, but such was the cumulative uniqueness of the series of events that has characterised 2020, this year they chose several “words of an unprecedented year” – a move that is itself unprecedented. So why not use their zeitgeist-capturing collection of novel verbiage as a way of reviewing 2020 from a tyre business perspective?
5 November saw the inaugural virtual Tyre Industry Conference, with Tyres & Accessories bringing the traditional annual conference into the virtual arena due to Covid-19 restrictions. Produced in association with the NTDA and supported by Cam Systems, our expert panel was comprised of James Ward, senior insight manager, GfK; Andrea Manenti, VP north region, Bridgestone; and Pravesh Amtha, sales general manager Consumer UK&I, Goodyear. The wide-ranging 45-minute conversation covered a lot of bases, but the first session, which was designed to focus on the new tyre market’s recent trends and statistics began with a presentation from James Ward.
On 26 October 2020, The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 statutory instrument was made. Three days later it was laid before Parliament. It comes into force on 1 February 2021. As a result, 10 year-old and older commercial vehicle tyres will be illegal in the UK from the 1 February 2021. And therefore, the Tyred campaign to ban old and dangerous tyres led by Frances Molloy has achieved a key goal.
During the last 18 years GRI has expanded significantly. Across the material handling, agricultural and construction segments, GRI now produces a total of 100 tonnes of tyres a day. Most recently the company added new mixing capacity in a bid to expand the company’s overall production output. So how does this particular action fit into the wider strategy? Tyres & Accessories interviewed GRI managing director Prabhash Subasinghe in order to find out.
When the Covid-19 pandemic led to the first national lockdown in March 2020, it wasn’t immediately clear what was allowed to be open. It also took time to clarify who exactly could be defined as key workers. However, it quickly became apparent that – whatever else happens – logistics fleets and blue-light services were indispensable. And these vehicles can’t get anywhere without tyres. Therefore, garages and tyre-fitters were swiftly categorised as exempted businesses and key workers respectively. Having learnt the lessons of the first lockdown, this time things are clear: Tyre garages are allowed to remain open during lockdown. And tyre specialists are key workers.
The majority of industries across the UK have been impacted by the effect of COVID-19 and – with up to 60 per cent of garages closed during lockdown – the tyre industry is no exception. Prevailing market conditions combined with the complexity of the pandemic’s damage means that insurers have reduced their risk exposure and overall capacity. This, combined with newer pressures on the horizon, has provided tyre companies with a rationale for bolstering their risk management measures in order to avoid costly and time-consuming slip-ups down the line. Tyres & Accessories spoke with Ben Harrison, vice president, Marsh Commercial in order to find out more.
Early in 2020 the UK government suggested a tentative plan to ban the export of all end of life tyres (ELTs). The timing was unfortunate, with the challenges of the rest of 2020 becoming increasingly apparent at the start of spring. However, with strict recycling, energy from waste, and environmental targets to meet over the next twenty years or so, many companies are pressing ahead in raising awareness and innovating within the broad recycling sector. ELTs represent a particularly important part of the new era in recycling introduced by the UK’s Environment Bill, not least because of new and incoming measures internal and external against used and end of life tyre exports, a popular, yet often damaging solution to the problem. Rory Hughes, technical director at IRR Waste 2 Energy, and a waste and recycling expert with more than 35 experience in the industry, told Tyrepress why adopting a more holistic approach to tyre recycling is the way forward.
We’ve all had to adapt during the corona-crisis and lockdown. For many tyre retailers it has meant agonising decisions relating to either staying opening or shutting down. But some have found a middle way – mobile tyre fitting.
During our recent “Kick-starting your tyre business” Tyrepress webinar, Craig Sprigmore, retail director of HiQ; Graham Mitchell, wholesale director of Micheldever Tyre Services; Noel Pope, managing director of Merityre; and John Stone, founder and managing director of Stone Tyres discussed the role of mobile fitting in helping tyre businesses adapt to the new normal.
Roughly 18 months after Clive Seabrook joined Pro-Align, Tyres & Accessories caught up with the relatively new CEO in order to find out more about how the right equipment and services can add value to garage businesses, especially in the post-lockdown environment.
Challenging times need innovative solutions, so Pro Align responded to the pressures brought about by lockdown by seeing by choosing not to approach the circumstances as a commercial opportunity, but rather by responding to the customer instead:
During our recent “Kickstarting your tyre business webinar”, the panel shared lockdown stories of how they have survived and even experienced success during these difficult times. For his part, Graham Mitchell, wholesale director of Micheldever Tyre Services, shared details of how his company moved from its role as a leading wholesaler to a more support-orientated position. For those pivoting into this new role during lockdown, far from having less to do, this meant being even busier than normal despite wholesale volumes dropping to 25 per cent of normal levels during the depths of lockdown (levels are much more normal now, however).