The latest in our ‘Torque from the Top’ series of interviews with leading tyre industry executives features David Seward, MD of Yokohama’s UK distributor, Yokohama HPT. As you will read later, the company was established in 1988 and Seward has been with the company from the beginning, which must make him one of (if not the) longest-serving MD of any UK-based international tyre company. But first, a brief look at the history of the parent company.
Yokohama-sponsored Chelsea FC, have been named champions of the 2019/20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League. With a game in hand, the Blues were in second place and a point behind Manchester City when the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following a meeting by the FA board, it was decided to finish the league prematurely and award the title on a points-per-game basis. In addition to securing victory for Chelsea, the decision also confirms the team’s qualification for next season’s Women’s Champions League.
A record crowd saw Yokohama-sponsored Chelsea Football Club Women make a winning start to their new Barclays Women’s Super League season in their first domestic league appearance at Stamford Bridge. The 1-0 victory against Spurs was played in front of a crowd of 24,564, more than five times as many supporters as had watched the team’s previous record home game.
Yokohama is celebrating the success of Chelsea FC in the UEFA Europa League, for which the tyre manufacturer is shirt sponsor. The club’s emphatic 4-1 win against London rivals Arsenal in Wednesday’s match in Baku, Azerbaijan gave Chelsea its sixth European trophy and its first with Yokohama’s name on its shirt. A global television audience, including free-to-air coverage in the UK, provided Yokohama with increased brand visibility, the company states.
This year, Chelsea FC will play a pre-season match in Japan, an event sponsor Yokohama Rubber has previously requested. The tyre maker has now announced its support of the fixture, which is scheduled for 19 July – it intends to “work closely with Chelsea” while the team is in Japan to “bring Japanese fans closer to the ‘Blues’ ahead of the 2019/20 season.”
Yokohama has been presented with its third award from TyreSafe, the UK’s tyre safety charity, at its annual dinner. In taking TyreSafe’s Highly Commended Award, Yokohama secured its third consecutive win from the charity, having taken the Tyre Manufacturer Award for the previous two years.
Yokohama-sponsored Chelsea FC enjoyed a winning conclusion to the 2017-18 football season by taking a 1-0 victory in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley. Marking the climax of the English season, the match was played in front of a sell-out crowd at Wembley, and watched by a live UK TV audience which peaked at 8.7 million. With global TV viewership expected to be at least ten times this number, Yokohama will benefit from a jump in brand exposure from its shirt partnership with the winners.
The increasing popularity of all-season tyres in Europe has led to an increase in product development in the segment as manufacturers, especially premium manufacturers, move to launch products offering less of a compromise of characteristics than ever before in the segment. Yokohama, a global brand that has arguably done more than any other tyre manufacturer not already part of the big seven to make a convincing case for being categorised as a premium brand, is the latest to launch a next generation all-season product, the BluEarth 4Seasons.
Yokohama’s logo will continue to appear on Chelsea FC’s home shirt in the 2018/19 season. The club launched its 2018/19 home kit, which will be worn by the first team and both the Chelsea Academy and Ladies teams throughout the 2018/19 season.
Yokohama has been shortlisted in the prestigious UK Sponsorship Awards for its work in promoting tyre safety with Chelsea FC and TyreSafe. Nominated in the Football Sponsorship (Domestic) category, Yokohama will be competing against the likes of DHL, Hays and Cadbury, in recognition of its work at Stamford Bridge in promoting tyre safety to travelling football fans.
Yokohama will display its latest competition tyres, its road tyres recently approved by major new original equipment manufacturers, its driver and championship partnerships for 2018, and the Premier League trophy at the NEC Birmingham’s Autosport International show (11-14 January 2018). The manufacturer extended its invitation to see new products, the Premier League trophy and discuss tyre needs for the season ahead on stand 2750 in Hall 20.
Yokohama has sponsored a new football stunt video by American YouTube sensations Dude Perfect, and starring several Chelsea FC players. Using tyres provided by Yokohama, stunts include the Smoke Show Gonger, Bounce Back Banker, Three-point Header and Goalie Goal, displaying the players’ skills.