With Michelin buying a stake in Allopneus as well as the complete Blackcircles business in the Spring; and with Apollo purchasing Reifen.com in November, it is fair to say we witnessed a trend towards manufacturer investment in online tyre businesses this year. Dig a little deeper and we are beginning to learn more about how tyre manufacturers are approaching this unavoidably important strategic area. With 2015 being something of a landmark year in this respect, Tyres & Accessories met with Blackcircles founder and managing director Mike Welch in Edinburgh to find out more.
Michelin chief operating officer, Florent Menegaux told Tyres & Accessories that the manufacturer would promote synergies with ATS Euromaster following its acquisition of Blackcircles.com. Speaking to Tyrepress following the announcement of its £50 million purchase, Michelin’s chief operating officer said that the UK’s biggest online tyre retail operation would gain “access to ATS Euromaster branches in the UK”, which numbered 343 in the recent T&A survey of the retail landscape.
Michelin has bought Blackcircles.com, the number one internet tyre sales company in the United Kingdom, for £50 million. Based in Edinburgh, Blackcircles.com generated £28 million in revenue in 2013. Run by Mike Welch, its founder, Blackcircles.com has enjoyed growth of around 20 per cent per annum since 2008. The company reports that the first quarter of 2015 saw the company achieve revenues 34 per cent higher than Q1 2014.
Blackcircles.com has launched a sales initiative with a lifetime guarantee. The online tyre retailer is offering a range of “Quality Choice” tyres as a step up from its Value Choice range. Like the lower-priced tyre, the Quality Choice does not specify a brand and model, though it does show tyre labelling grades, instead using its own branding on the website’s point of sale. Unlike the Value Choice, Blackcircles.com is offering an added incentive to customers choosing the Quality range; the online retailer will replace the tyre “in the very unlikely event that your tyre develops a fault due to the manufacturing process or materials used.”
When Blackcircles.com appointed two new directors in early November, it was about more than simply expanding the range of experience available to the firm. It was also about driving the company’s international expansion plans forward. Tyres & Accessories recently caught up with founder and managing director Mike Welch in Edinburgh and found out more about […]
Buying tyres on tick is nothing new across the pond, but a newly-announced deferred finance scheme from Blackcircles.com is said to be a UK first. The online tyre retailer says its ‘buy now pay later’ offering will enable motorists “feeling the pinch in the lead up to Christmas” to avoid the risk of driving on worn, potentially dangerous tyres. Tyres can be obtained now, with payments deferred for six months.
Blackcircles.com has received one of the highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) of 2014, best-of-class against its industry peers and also ahead of well-known international brands like Amazon, Apple, Mercedes-Benz and Aldi. The company’s NPS of 84 is based on customers’ likelihood to recommend a brand to others and is calculated as the percentage of customers who are ‘Promoters’, rating the business 9 or 10 on a zero-to-ten point scale, minus the percentage who are ‘Detractors’, rating 6 or lower. It is viewed as the leading customer experience metric and provides a strong indication of a company’s relationship with its customers.
Blackcircles.com has appointed two new directors to drive the company’s international expansion plans forward. Alastair Grier takes on the role of commercial director and Nick Leonard joins as director of digital and customer acquisition.
Blackcircles.com has signed a headline sponsorship deal with ITV for the broadcaster’s coverage of Formula E series of races which begin on 13 September in Beijing, China. With the final race on the streets of London on 27 June 2015, other city locations on the calendar include Beunos Aires, Miami, Monte Carlo and Berlin. ITV will be broadcasting live and highlight shows on ITV4, ITV4HD and ITV4+1, with catch up also available on ITV Player, itv.com and ITV Player Mobile app across online and mobile devices.
Following the news that Blackcircles.com opened its fourth PitStop Click&Fit tyre bay in Glasgow at the end of June, Tyres & Accessories spoke with the company’s founder and managing director Mike Welch in order to find out more about the company’s plans and hints that it is courting investment this year.
Blackcircles.com has opened its fourth tyre fitting Tesco PitStop, and first in Scotland, at Tesco Extra in Silverburn, Glasgow. The PitStop is operational and opened for bookings on Saturday 28 June, with the first tyres being fitted on Monday 30 June. The first PitStop Click&Fit tyre bay was opened in Milton Keynes in July 2013. Since then, additional PitStops have been opened at Tesco Extra stores in Bar Hill, Cambridge and Handforth, Cheshire.
Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy has been appointed to the board of Blackcircles.com. Leahy has been a shareholder in the online tyre business for around six years and his stake in Blackcircles is now said to be 25 per cent. In his new role, Leahy will work with company founder and chief executive Mike Welch and chairman Graeme Bisset to identify and implement new means of financing ongoing growth within the business. One option that Leahy may be closely involved in is an IPO.
According to The Independent, former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy is providing “mentoring services on an ad hoc basis” to Blackcircles.com. Leahy, who the newspaper describes as being an “acquaintance” of Blackcircles.com managing director Mike Welch, also disclosed that he owns a stake in the online tyre retailer. Yet while admitting being a shareholder for some three years now, Leahy stressed to the newspaper he had “no hand” in orchestrating the Tesco Tyres partnership between Blackcircles.com and the supermarket giant. Further distancing himself from potential mutterings over conflicts of interest, Sir Terry reports he informed Tesco chairman David Reid upon acquiring his share in Blackcircles.
Online tyre retailer, Black Circles, has won an e-commerce award at the Scottish 2004 National Business Awards.
The company views the award as an endorsement of its strategy to trade predominantly online. The E-Strategy Business of the Year Award joins the company’s Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year award received by Black Circles’ 25 year old managing director Mike Welch.
Mr Welch commented: “Our overall business strategy, including the e-commerce strategy, is highly innovative and includes a highly appealing consumer offering. We sell top brand name tyres cheaply and we fit them at a location of your choice at a time of your choice. That has already been shown to be appealing to tens of thousands of consumers across the UK already and this award is further endorsement that we are continuing to go in the right direction.”
The company’s web service allows consumers to source, purchase and arrange tyre fitting all online.