It is somewhat ironic that the number 2020 has inherent associations with perfect vision and yet this year has turned out to be the most unpredictable in a lifetime. For example, no-one saw President Trump’s twitter-borne sideswipe at Goodyear’s tyres coming last month – how could they? However, on a more serious note, the effects of uncertainty has real-life impact. And this month has seen more than its fair share of such harsh realities in the tyre industry.
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The UK’s largest tyre retailer, Kwik Fit, is being prepared for a sale. The Japanese Itochu group, which owns the European Tyre Enterprises Ltd (ETEL) holding company that controls both Kwik Fit and its wholesale counterpart Stapleton’s Tyre Services, has appointed investment bankers Nomura to advise on strategic options for the company, according to Sky News, with insiders suggesting a sale is very likely.
After years of expansion amongst the top 20 UK tyre retailers, the latest data shows that this trend peaked in 2017/2018 when the top 20 accounted for 2014 branches. The same 20 tyre retailers had 1980 branches between them in 2018/2019. And what’s more, the reorganisation of one retailer alone accounted for a 40-centre decline in branch count, with the overall figure remaining positive due to growth at other chains. Here Tyres & Accessories analyses the branch count data in the context of 10 years of comparable research.
Leading UK tyre group, European Tyre Enterprise Ltd (ETEL), has announced a series of promotions within its senior management, including the appointment of a new CEO following Kenji Murai’s promotion to a global position with parent company, Itochu.
Kwik Fit reports that it is seeing fleet demand for its range of mechanical services increasing and is forecasting further growth in 2015. According to the company, the catalyst for growth was the opening of 20 Kwik Fit Plus centres. Indeed, Kwik Fit Plus centres are said to form a key part of parent company Itochu Corporation’s ongoing network-wide multi-million pound refurbishment and modernisation programme.
75 years after the company’s foundation, Stapleton’s, its suppliers and its partners are all celebrating three quarters of a century in business.
It’s hard to imagine what Sidney Stapleton would make of the company that bears his name 75 years on from the September day in 1937 when he first incorporated the firm and opened his premises at 195 High Street, Watford. By the end of the Second World War in 1945, the company had not only survived but expanded with the opening of a new depot in nearby Hitchin – a move that brought the weekly wage bill to a total of £20.
Stapleton’s Tyre Services has officially confirmed that on 28 February 2011 it acquired all the shares of North Eastern Tyre & Exhaust Limited (NETE). However, an official statement issued by the company reported that NETE will continue to trade as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stapleton’s Tyre Services. Stapleton’s representatives said the company intends to complement NETE’s “professional approach to the market and their excellent customer service in order to ensure the future success of both companies.” No further details of the price or the terms have yet been released.
Kwik-Fit Group has confirmed earlier reports that PAI Partners has sold the fast fit chain to the Japanese Itochu Corporation for £637 million. The purchase price is said to include £457 million of debt, which will be paid off in full at completion, according to a Financial Times report. The deal is reportedly Itochu’s biggest investment in the UK and follows its acquisition of Stapletons in 1994. The company is also already talking about the potential synergies between the two businesses:
Kwik-Fit has reportedly been sold to the Japanese conglomerate that owns Stapleton’s, Itochu Corporation. According to a City AM report, the deal follows the signing of a three digit million pound deal yesterday (1 March 2011). The article suggests Kwik-fit’s former owner, private equity firm PAI Partners” has “cashed out” of its six-year ownership of the chain for “£637 million, which includes net debts of £457 million.” A Kwik-Fit spokesman refused to confirm or deny the reports when Tyres & Accessories asked for confirmation of the news. Either way, the reports suggest the deal is still subject to regulatory approval.
Stapleton’s Tyre Services has confirmed that it has agreed terms with Pirelli Tyre UK to purchase its CPK Auto Products Ltd business. Asked what the strategic intention behind the firm’s latest acquisition is, Stapleton’s representatives said “Pirelli’s CPK strengthens Stapleton’s position as the UK’s number one tyre distributor” and said the move sees the tyre distribution specialist “expand its trade distribution operation enabling a further improvement in efficiencies and customer service” in an official statement. No details of the terms of the sale have been released.
Commenting on the acquisition, Stapleton’s chief executive, Kenji Murai, said: “We are a growing business and this latest acquisition allows us to further improve our market position. Our aim is to provide excellent value for money alongside great customer service, across all our B2B sectors. This philosophy will be at the heart of everything we do.”
Stapleton’s Tyre Service has agreed terms to buy Pirelli’s CPK tyre wholesale business for an undisclosed sum. A TUPE consultation process commenced with elected representatives of CPK on Monday 26 July. The sale is said to fall within Pirelli UK's strategy to focus on its core business, which does not include tyre retail or wholesale operations.
Kwik-Fit, the UK’s leading tyre retailer, has reportedly been put up for auction by its owners PAI Partners. PAI, a French private equity group, bought Kwik-Fit from CVC Capital Partners for roughly £800 million in 2005 after seeing off competing bids from suitors including global tyremaker Bridgestone. Newspaper reports from sources including The Guardian and The Scotsman published on the 30 and 31 May respectively suggest that Kwik-Fit has once again attracted the attention of private equity groups including Blackstone, KKR and Permira. However both reports also speculate about the likelihood of Bridgestone’s involvement in bidding for Kwik-Fit’s latest change of ownership. A source close to Kwik-Fit’s owners told Tyres & Accessories that the press reports were inaccurate and “there is no formal sale process,” but confirmed that there is a formal sale process for the firm’s insurance arm.