The threat of coronavirus and our response to this has changed much in the last six months of year, and a study conducted on behalf of Kwik Fit shows that car buying plans are no exception. While the end of the first lockdown saw a rise in car sales due to pent up demand, it seems the pandemic has changed the vehicle purchase intentions of as many as 13.9 million UK drivers.
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.
MOT exemption means many cars will not be checked for up to six months and 49 per cent of drivers receiving an MOT extension will go to the end of the period without getting car tested, according to Kwik Fit’s analysis. However, the leading fast-fit chain also reports that the majority of drivers think the MOT extension should be ended now.
The great reduction in vehicle movements resulting from lockdown has had an unintended and unwelcome consequence for some motorists. Kwik Fit reports that with the vast majority of people making only infrequent, or very short journeys, the number of drivers visiting its outlets over the four weeks to 1 May needing a new battery has been double the usual rate for the time of year.
British Touring Car Championship series organiser, TOCA, has issued a revised provisional calendar for the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, comprising nine events and a total of 27 races, all of which will be screened live and exclusively on the ITV network. TOCA’s provisional plan commences in August, winding up in November, though the calendar remains conditional upon government directives and approvals regarding the resumption of sporting activities. If necessary, TOCA said it would make further amendments.
At the moment it is easy to get side-tracked by all the talk of the coronavirus. But, while it is clearly an important subject, the tyre business has a century or more of pre-history, has a present and has a future. With this in mind, May’s edition of Tyres & Accessories continues in line with the last eight years of research by counting and ranking the nation’s largest tyre retail chains.
The methodology is simple, we contact companies, consult publicly available sources and use third-party data where necessary in order to triangulate our tyre retail landscape. Of course, the present circumstances may look significantly different due to the nations’ current lockdown status (see “Which Garages are Open During Lockdown“). However, the shape of the tyre retail business before the lockdown will surely help the retail trade strategize for its ongoing future after lockdown, making this data as actionable as ever.
Kwik Fit has raised £1 million for its first selected charity of the year, Children with Cancer UK. The UK’s leading charity dedicated to the fight against cancer in children and young people was chosen following a vote open to more than 5,000 Kwik Fit employees across the UK last year.
European Tyre Enterprise Limited (ETEL) has promoted Mark Slade, managing director of Kwik Fit GB, to the new position of ETEL Group Deputy CEO. Slade will continue in his role leading Kwik Fit, but will also take on additional group responsibilities as part of a broader remit.
UK motorists spent a total of £1.25 billion repairing pothole damage to their vehicles over the last year, reveals research published this week by Kwik Fit. This research from Walnut (formerly ICM) indicates that more than 10.8 million vehicles in the UK were damaged in the last 12 months due to poor road conditions. The costs to motorists for such damage over the last three years amounts to an astonishing £3.4 billion.
Kwik Fit says it is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, and at present its centres are open for business as usual “where possible”. It adds that the company’s “overriding priority” is the health and well-bring of its staff and customers.
As the UK increasingly adopts social distancing measures, tyre retailers are reporting increased demand for mobile tyre fitting services. For example, Kwik Fit is introducing social distancing measures for its mobile fleet operators. The company reports that it has seen a 15 per cent increase in enquiries for appointments for tyre fitting at customers’ homes, the majority of which are said to be due to customers self-isolating after being impacted by the government’s latest guidance on the coronavirus. And Halfords has introduced a ‘contactless’ home fitting service.
Kwik Fit has announced the agreement of a major deal with Lex Autolease, the UK’s biggest vehicle contract hire and leasing provider. The six-year agreement covers tyre and associated services and is the largest deal by value and forecast tyre volume that Kwik Fit has ever secured with a major contract hire and leasing company.
Research carried out for Kwik Fit suggests that Birmingham is the UK’s most expensive city for car ownership. According to the results, Brummies pay almost twice as much for the privilege as residents of Exeter do.