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.
One European tyre manufacturer that clearly is expanding at the moment is Brisa-Bridgestone Sabanci Tyre Manufacturing and Trading Inc. Since 2003 the Turkish joint venture company has invested about $174 million into the expansion of its local production capacities which will eventually increase by 55 per cent to more than 10 million units.
In order to distribute this growing production capacity the Turkish tyre manufacturer is looking for new customers that should come from Russia, says Haldun Kuran. Right now there is no market for Brisa in Russia, the international sales director continues. But very soon the company will sell its first Lassa branded tyres on the Russian market through the “Pole Position” francise, which is linked with Bridgestone and operates about 100 point of sales.
Sakip Sabanci passed away at 6:00 am on Saturday 10th April, following a long battle against cancer. He was 71. As head of the Sabanci group, he presided over the establishment of Lassa in 1974 and the later joint venture with Bridgestone in 1988, as a result of which the company name changed to Brisa. A new factory was built at Izmit and production began in November 1990. Married with three children, he was the author of 13 books and, during his lifetime, was awarded no fewer than 11 honorary doctorates by Turkish and US universities. Other awards include the Crystal Globe by the European Economic Institute and the Turkish State Distinguished Service Medal. In 1999 Sakip Sabanci was elected “Businessman of the Year” by the FABSIT foundation in New York and was given the “Award for promoting Turkey” by the Turkish-American Businessman Association. With an estimated fortune of 2.65 billion Euro, he was reckoned to be Turkey’s richest man.
Lassa has announced the appointment of John Westwood as the new senior director responsible for the running of its London-based European export sales operation. He joins the company after a long and distinguished career with Goodyear in a variety of senior sales and marketing positions. Mr. Westwood will replace Gunduz Akin as European Sales and Marketing Director, responsible for all Lassa brand sales in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and the UK. Mr Akin has returned to Turkey to work for Lassa’s parent company, Brisa.
The UK newspaper Financial Times has published its annual list of the world’s 500 largest companies, ranked by market capitalisation. The only tyre company to appear last year was Bridgestone, at number 300. The company does not make this year’s global top 500. Among Europe’s top 500 are the following tyre companies, with their positions. Michelin (301) Pirelli (242) and Continental (479). Mention should be made too of Sabanci Holdings, the ultimate parent of Lassa/Brisa, which appears at number 331 in Europe.
3,000 Turkish tyre workers returned to work yesterday after the Government had ordered a two-month postponement because of “national security issues”. The Government wants to reduce inflation from the current 60% to 20%. Unions wanted a 35% rise and were offered 26.5%, which was rejected. Last week the three main manufacturers – Brisa, Goodyear and Pirelli – took out a joint press advertisement attacking the action.
The Turkish conglomerate Sabanci Holding – the group which includes the Brisa joint venture with Bridgestone – has sold a 25% stake in another of its joint venture companies. Sabanci has sold 25% of Toyotasa to its partner Toyota Motor Corporation for US$ 109 m, leaving Sabanci with a stake in the company of almost 25%.
The tyre factories of Brisa (Bridgestone/Sabanci), Pirelli and Goodyear are all situated within a few hundred metres from one another along a road leading out of Izmit, the town so severely hit by the earthquake. Bekaert also has a production facility nearby, Continental manufactures technical rubber products not far away, and a second Pirelli plant makes cables. It will only be a matter of days until production, only partially interrupted by the earthquake, returns to full strength while the aid campaign has gone into full swing at the same time.