The National Tyre Distributors Association has presented a bumper crop of awards during its 92nd Annual Dinner in Birmingham. In the headline awards, Merityre was made the Overall Tyre Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Pirelli Tyres, Bridgestone took first place in Tyre Manufacturer of the Year, sponsored by The Commercial Vehicle Show, while Stapleton’s Tyre Services became 2021’s Tyre Wholesaler of the Year, sponsored by Compilator / Team Systems. Tyrepress reported the announcement of the award winners, in addition to the day’s Tyre Industry Conference, live via Twitter.
With the fuel shortage appearing to ease in most regions and the situation back to normal in many locations – excepting London and the South East – new figures reveal how many drivers have been affected since the crisis began.
European Tyre Enterprise Ltd (ETEL), which owns both Kwik Fit and Stapleton’s, will rebrand 60 of its Tyre City retail centres as either Kwik Fit or STS Tyre Pros as the company focuses on those two retail channels. According to the company, the decision follows a strategic review over the last few months, which found that ETEL should “simplify its retail operations and operate under two brands, Kwik Fit and STS Tyre Pros”. The transition of the centres to their new brands has begun and will continue over the coming weeks.
The rise of electric vehicles, continuing to set a good pace of growth in UK and European markets despite the difficulties facing new car sales over the last 18 months, is one of the central pillars of mobility’s dominant megatrend, sustainability. Given the UK’s growing demand for the various forms of electric-powered cars – battery electric (BEV), hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and mild hybrid electric (MHEV) – it is clear that servicing this section of the market will be vital in the long-term to tyre fitters. At the same time numbers remain relatively small in comparison to the level of interest they generate, though the growth is impressive.
With forecasters predicting an improvement in the weather, and possibly even a heatwave in late August, many of those yet to begin their UK staycation will be looking forward to setting off for family time away. However, a study conducted on behalf of Kwik Fit shows that most drivers are not making the necessary checks to ensure their journey is trouble free. It reveals that only 32 per cent of drivers setting off on a family holiday adjusts their tyre pressure to allow for the extra weight of a full load. To combat avoidable safety and efficiency issues, Kwik Fit has recruited SAS star Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham.
“For many years the ‘Kwik Fit Tyre Insurance Price Guide’ has been the accepted insurance standard that bodyshops have been required to use for the tyre charge out price on insurance invoices. This was a process that worked very well with bodyshops buying tyres from Kwik Fit and making a 20 per cent margin before parts or bottom-line discounts. However, the price list had remained unchanged since 2017 leaving bodyshops in many cases forced to charge less for tyres than they were paying themselves”, said Chris Weeks, director of the National Body Repair Association (NBRA).
In mid-July Colewood Automotive named Chris Higgins as its new finance director. Having been appointed to the role in June, Higgins will now work with the board to “manage and control the companies within the group to ensure financial and regulatory requirements are fulfilled”. Chris Higgins’ career spans over 20 years and includes 12 years as finance director for Kwik-Fit Fleet.
Electric vehicles account for a growing proportion of the UK car parc and will continue to do so in the years to come. This move from combustion power is a thrown gauntlet that garages and vehicle servicing firms need to pick up sooner rather than later, and also a transition that requires a visible investment in charging capabilities.
A coalition of trade associations (including the NTDA) and commercial organisations (including Halfords and Kwik Fit) has been formed to lobby the UK government to uphold “the rights of the independent aftermarket and consumers in the post-Brexit era.” The UK Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair (AFCAR), which derives its name from the European group of the same name, will primarily lobby on the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations (MV-BER), Vehicle Type Approval (including access to Repair & Maintenance Information) and Cybersecurity.
Data released by the UK car industry throughout the pandemic has shown the negative impact of Covid-19 on sales of new and used vehicles, but new research shows the figures could have been worse. A study for Kwik Fit indicates that as 3.8 million drivers said Covid-19 caused them to put off a planned car purchase. However, this was partially offset by the fact that 3.2 million drivers were prompted by the impact of the pandemic to buy a new or used car.
Kwik Fit has taken a look at data published by the government and notes that the pandemic was responsible for an additional quarter of a million cars being taken off UK roads. The automotive servicing and repair company reached this conclusion after comparing the number of vehicles officially off road with a registered SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) in the last quarter of 2020 with figures for the final quarter of 2019.
With a pandemic, an MOT extension and three lockdowns to contend with, describing the last year as “difficult” would be an understatement. Nevertheless, tyre retailers have demonstrated that they are not only key workers essential to keeping the British Isles rolling, but also versatile and resilient businesspeople during the last 12 months. A quick look at the top 25 UK tyre retail chains 2021 table reveals that it has been a more eventful year than normal in terms of branch openings and closings, but overall the clear message is one of consolidation. As a result, the top 25 UK tyre retail chains wield more power than ever. Specifically, the top 25 now run 2528 branches between them. When our coverage of this area began back at the end of the 2008/2009 tax year, the figure was 1978. During the interim, the rough estimate for the total number of tyre retailers national has stayed stable at around 10,000 specialists (that number is roughly double that if you include general garages). This means the top 25 occupy roughly 25 per cent of the number of branches, up 6 percentage points since 2009.
With the launch of Kwik Fit Club membership, the UK’s largest tyre retail has become the latest to offer a tyres-as-a-service style wheel and tyre subscription offer. Initially, the Kwik Fit Club service is being piloted in the North West and Yorkshire regions, with a national roll out to follow this summer.
Kwik Fit Club membership sees drivers pay a monthly subscription which covers all their tyre wear, including repairs and premium tyre replacement, wheel alignment and six-monthly health checks. They also have the option to include their MOT and servicing costs. Drivers can join the programme and keep track of their subscription through an app, and although they can nominate a ‘home garage’, their membership can be used at any of Kwik Fit’s 600-plus centres across the country.