Times are hard; for some they are even too hard. During the prevailing financial and economic crisis plenty of steps need to be taken if a company wants to successfully weather the hardships involved. In an exclusive interview with Tyres & Accessories, Massimo De Alessandri, CEO of the Marangoni Group, explains how his company is facing the current situation, why its prospects are quite good, and why there won’t be any long-term damage to the group.
TYRES & ACCESSORIES:
The economic environment in Europe has been difficult in recent months, to say the least. How has the Marangoni Group been affected by this?
Market research specialists, Encircle Marketing, are now offering motorbike tyre data. The company, which was founded a little over a year ago, has quickly built a reputation for providing fast, accurate and actionable data to some of Britain’s leading tyre businesses. Now, in addition to the already popular passenger car and online tyre sales reports, joint founders Jason Cunningham and David Myers have decided to create another market specific product, this time aimed at the two-wheel segment. Tyres & Accessories recently met the management at the company’s new offices in Doncaster and found out more about the data they offer.
The new motorbike tyre survey covers two key areas sell-out pricing, which measures the sell-out prices actually charged by consumers; and selling way – research on the argumentations used to sell different brands at the point of sale. Initially the company plans to make over 700 mystery calls a month across the various channels and regions that make up the market. In order to make the research as effective as possible, Encircle have hired mystery callers based upon their specific knowledge of the motorcycle sector (meaning they are bikers themselves) with a range of regional accents to minimise the risk of detection by centre staff.
When the NTDA’s increasingly Influential Tyre Wholesalers’ Group (TWG) met for its annual lunch in November, the event brought with it news of import quality checks, an update on the current market situation and a polite request for not manufacturers to take advantage of the UK’s detached geographical position when it comes to pricing.
However, in his role as chairman, Ashley Croft began by giving the audience representing the majority of leading manufacturers and wholesalers an overview of how the economic climate is affecting tyre wholesale markets:
In response to market changes, a tighter regulatory environment and pressure on costs, exhaust and after-treatment system suppliers face both opportunities and challenges in the next five years. This growth will occur in part due to the overall increase in the world market for passenger cars, which is expected to grow in volume by 34 per cent from 66 million units in 2006 to around 85 million by 2014. This will create increased demand for more exhaust and after-treatment systems. But on top of this organic increase in sales, other factors will create additional growth, taking exhaust and after-treatment system supplier revenues to an even higher level.
During the 1990s the US television series ‘The X-Files’ popularised the catchphrase “the truth is out there.” But while the programme focused on little green men and other unexplained phenomena, it could have easily referred to the high performance tyre market. The truth about this market segment is, you see, somewhere out there. Yet it is difficult to place one’s hands with confidence upon a single, authoritative source of data that tells exactly how things are and where they are headed. What can really be said about the high performance tyre market?
A much-awaited insight into our local tyre market has become available following the release of the first in a series of regular reports produced by market research company GfK. The GfK report into retail sales of new tyres divides the market into three distinct channels; national multiples (retailers with over 100 branches), regional multiples (10-99 branches) and independents (1-9 branches). Data from thousands of depots has been collected and analysed over a six-month period, and GfK has estimated the total UK new tyre replacement market (for car, 4×4 and light commercial vehicles) to be 28.4 million units.
US replacement tyre shipments declined 4.9 per cent in January, despite being down 4.4 per cent in January 2005. The downturn is widely accepted to have been at least partly caused by the recent Goodyear strike. According to Deutsche Bank analysts, warm weather may also have pushed back demand for winter tyres. The analysts also observed that other tyre makers, including Cooper Tire, are experiencing better demand than the overall market data suggests
Although demand for road freight transport in Europe is predicted to increase substantially by 2020, the road ahead looks difficult for many established transport companies. Spiralling fuel prices, increased competition following enlargement of the EU and stricter environmental and safety legislation are squeezing margins. As a result price and overall economy are as important as ever for truck tyre consumers. Tyres & Accessories collated all the recent UK market data and asked what effect this ‘cost culture’ is having on the UK market.
There has been much talk about the supposed benefits of nitrogen inflation during the course of this year. Some people call it a gimmick, others take the view that the technological benefits are based on science and that the economic benefits are not to be sniffed at. With this in mind Tyres & Accessories addresses the myths surrounding nitrogen inflation.
Nitrogen tyre inflation is more common than you might think. While comprehensive market data is difficult to come by at this relatively early stage in Nitrogen market’s development, the number of systems on the market is definitely in the hundreds. One equipment manufacturer told T&A (rather optimistically) that there are 500 of units currently on the market. If this is correct it is highly unlikely that these units are being used in tyre inflation applications.
At the end of November Michelin invited motor journalists to a so-called “Winter Workshop” at the “Arctic Driving Centre” near Rovaniemi (Finland). The main topic of the event was of course the capabilities of winter tyres. Despite the very mild climate at the end of last year the tyre industry expects that with 18.4 million winter tyres, sales will reach a new record this season in Germany: Based on this Michelin says that customers will spend some three million DM for new tyres and service. As well as such basic market data, the Winter Workshop gave those present the chance to check out the advantages of modern winter tyres. To illustrate this the tyre manufacturer had prepared four different sections, focusing on influences on winter performance such as the tread depth, the age of the tyre and the tyre speed index and dimension. All in all, 24 combinations were tested and more than 50 journalists driving the test cars led to a great number of – sometimes astonishing – results, and the data allowed the establishment of average values for each section. Michelin says that the results of the workshop will have a bearing on future developments and the criteria for choosing the right tyre. Learn more about this in the January edition of NEUE REIFENZEITUNG.
Recently BFGoodrich had chosen Dubai (United Arab Emirates) as the venue for the introduction of the latest 4×4 BFGoodrich tyre. The new tyre is the “All Terrain T/A” for mixed application on and off the road, a new/further development of its predecessor, “Radial All Terrain T/A” which will now be completely replaced by the new model in all sizes, with some more sizes added. This demonstrates the importance BFGoodrich attaches to the “All Terrain” tyres, a regularly updated line, which has sold well for more than 20 years. “The ‚All Terrain T/A‘, along with ‚Mud Terrain T/A‘ and ‚Long Trail T/A‘ are some of our most popular 4×4 models”, explained Matthias Utzinger, Kléber’s off-road product manager. The new “T/A” will be the most generally useful tyre in the product range, conceived for mixed applications, i.e. for light off-road work but also for the road and for drivers keen on sporty driving, without ever losing sight of its use as a “work-horse”. The forecast for Germany is approximately 100,000 new registrations for off-road cars in 1999, meaning more than 750,000 vehicles of that kind on the road in 2000, according to the tyre manufacturer’s market data, with 4×4 tyre replacement sales amounting to about 700,000. Thus the revised/new “All Terrain T/A” may well lead to BFGoodrich getting a larger slice of the cake.