Eskay Tyres, based in Sittingbourne (Kent) have been appointed sole European distributors for the Westlake brand of radial and bias-ply tyres. The range includes passenger, light truck, truck, agricultural, ATV, OTR and industrial tyres.
South African company Bridgestone Firestone Maxiprest is expanding and forming a new organisation. The company is to acquire West Cape Bandag and merging four outlets of tyre distributor Prima bande to form Primax Tyres. The outlets will distribute the Maxiprest range of retreads and related tyre services. Maxiprest has 100 retail outlets and 20 retread factories across South Africa.
German wholesaler Bohnenkamp (Osnabrück) has been the exclusive distributor for the Israeli agricultural tyre manufacturer Alliance in Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic since the beginning of July. With this step Bohnenkamp intends to underline its leading position in the distribution of imported tyres. The company has been chosen by Alliance due to its elaborate distribution network and flexible logistics. Alliance offers more than 500 different sizes in the agricultural, MPT-, EM- and industrial tyres sectors and presents – in the neighbourhood of Bohnenkamp – a completely renewed product range with many new profiles and dimensions.
Uniroyal is well-known for passenger and truck tyres. Now the brand, part of the Continental group, is trading under the name Uniroyal Agro in the agricultural tyre segment also. The exclusive distributor in Germany is Meyer Lissendorf, and negotiations are on-going regarding distribution in other European countries.
Vauxhall’s dealer franchise fast fit operation now operates 250 outlets in the UK. The expansion of the fast fit chain within the dealer network emphasises the importance of the fast fit market to the viability of the UK car distributor network. The sector is growing in importance as it increases market share, taking fast fit tyre and exhaust business from the shrinking independent fast fit sector.
No doubt about it: distribution of passenger car and truck tyres is undergoing a dramatic change in Germany. With the (re)-organised workshops and fast fitters a lot of new distributors of passenger car tyres have entered the market in recent years, attacking the monopoly of the professional tyre retailers, which had been successfully preserved over the past decades. In addition, the tyre distribution channel of car dealers has grown continuously over the last few years. Approximately every third car tyre is sold through this kind of distributor nowadays. The speed of this process will increase because all leading car manufacturers have developed programmes to accompany the customers with a lifelong full-service, which includes tyres and wheels. How threatening is all this for tyre retailers? It would be possible to have a nice discussion about these trends but we wanted to take a look on the concrete, everyday tyre business situation at car dealers and car repair workshops. For this we visited a total of ten companies in Hamburg. Who is selling tyres? Under which conditions are they sold? What about the competence and motivation of the employees? Do they give advice to customers? If so, how good is this advice? Where are tyres neglected as a product? How professional is the marketing? Which companies could be regarded as serious competitors to tyre retailers? The variation in the results of this report could hardly have been wider! In general the trend is that most of the car dealers and workshop stations are miles away from a professional tyre marketing operation. There is always a big difference between the stated goals and the actual achievement in real life. In the end the conclusion is that, on the one hand the importance of these new distribution channels should not be underestimated, but on the other hand, their professional performance should not be overestimated by tyre retailers.
Following the recent shake-up of its UK truck tyre operations, Continental has announced a “strategic agreement” with wholesaler Kings Road Tyres, whereby KRT will become the sole distributor of Uniroyal truck tyres in the UK and Ireland, effective September 1st. The new business will be separate from KRT’s wholesale operation and will be called “Uniroyal Truck Tyres.” Uniroyal car and van tyres are unaffected by the agreement and will still be managed by Continental.
Polish tyre manufacturer Stomil-Olsztyn, a member of the Michelin-group, is offering a new radial tyre for trailers, called “AM-17 Transport” , size 400/70 R20 150D, through its German distributor Bohnenkamp (Osnabrück). Its higher loading capacity as well as the significantly reduced rolling resistance compared with its diagonal version shall make this new tyre to an economic alternative for the farmer.
Watts Industrial Tyres (WIT), the UK market leader for industrial tyres, has signed a joint venture agreement with its Brazilian distributor to manufacture and distribute Watts brand solid tyres in Brazil. The company is ‘Souza Pinto Industria e Comercio de Artefatos de Borracha Ltda.’ and production begins this month at a new factory near Sao Paolo.
There are rumours that an unnamed rival from continental Europe is to make a takeover bid for Finelist, the UK-based distributor of car components. Finelist has 40,000 trade customers and, during the last financial year, made pre-tax profits of £26.3 m (Euro 43.6 m) on a turnover of £483 m (Euro 801 m).
1999 Cragar Industries (Phoenix/USA) sold most of the assets of its wheel business to Weld Racing and to Carlisle Tire & Wheel. The remaining assets have now been sold to midwest distributor PDK, Inc. and so the company has abandoned its (until now) core business of producing and distributing wheels. Cragar is still in the wheel business as the licensor of its brand, but is focussed now on Internet business.
Automechanika – the International Trade Fair for Car Workshop and Service Station Equipment, Automobile Spare Parts Accessories – has set a new exhibitor record: 3,909 exhibitors occupied all of the approx. 300,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor exhibition space to present their latest products and technical innovations. The almost three percent increase in exhibitor numbers was the result of growth in the number of German exhibitors. 67 percent of all exhibitors came from outside Germany. The top five exhibitor nations were Germany and Italy, followed by Taiwan, the USA and Great Britain. The exhibition ran from 6 to 10 September 2000 and Messe Frankfurt welcomed around 150,000 trade visitors from all over the world during the five days of the fair, where exhibitors took many orders and transacted a lot of business. In contrast to this positive attitude at the trade fair, the background situation of the market does not look that good: The car boom of previous years came to a sudden end this year. The EU-Commission in Brussels is thinking about ending the exclusive distributor networks of car retailers. Parallel to this the car manufacturers – especially Ford and Mercedes-Benz – are restructuring their distributor networks, which means that they are reducing the number of their retailers. The pressure on the suppliers exerted by the car producers continues to increase and as a result they are showing a stronger interest in the aftermarket business. Furthermore Goodyear/Dunlop’s daughter company Pneumant was the fist tyre producer for several years to have a booth at the Automechanika. However, it is doubtful that this is the first example of a growing trend, as the “Reifen” exhibition, central event of the European tyre world, was held just a few months ago and it is to be considered that – in contrast to the alloy wheel business – the target audience of the tyre manufacturers is most probably not those who attend the Automechanika. In NEUE REIFENZEITUNG 10/2000 we review the show.