Retreader and tyre management provider Vacu-Lug, which has today been acquired by Zenises, was visited by its local MP Nick Boles. The member for for Grantham and Stamford spent his time at the company seeing its latest manufacturing developments and learning more about its recently developed VMS Mobile app, designed to provide operators with fingertip access to their fleet’s tyre data whenever and wherever they need it.
Considering the evolution of the retreading market in the UK to fewer and larger players, the Retread Manufacturers’ Association (RMA) has been faced with somewhat dwindling numbers of members. Consolidation has meant fewer distinct companies, which has in turn made for a reduced membership base. However, this does not necessarily equate to the reduced vitality of retreading in the UK – while certainly facing many challenges from the availability of lower-cost new tyres imported from the Far East, retreading has continued to prove relevant to a greater or lesser degree depending on prevailing macroeconomic winds.
Vacu-Lug has become the new retread manufacturing partner for Hankook in the UK. The company signalled its new status by including the manufacturer’s Alphatread retreading brand on its stand at the Commercial Vehicle Show (24-26 April, Birmingham NEC), coinciding with the beginning of production of the Alphatread bead-to-bead retread truck tyre range at the Vacu-Lug factory in Grantham.
Vacu-Lug has begun production of Hankook’s Alphatread truck tyre range at its factory in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The bead-to-bead retread tyre range is designed for medium haul fleets, and consists of four sizes. For drive axles, the R-DH05 is available in 295/80R22.5, 315/80R22.5 and 315/70R22.5 and for trailer axles, the R-TH22 is available in 385/65R22.5.
With Continental’s acquisition and subsequent integration of Bandvulc, the UK retreading market was left with one remaining large independent operation in Lincolnshire-based Vacu-Lug. There were obvious comparisons between the firms – both private, family-owned businesses before Conti’s takeover; both in possession of a large chunk of UK retread market share; both offering the sorts of fleet management service options – but the change of ownership of one gives a new dimension to commercial vehicle tyre manufacturers’ decision of which firm to partner in the production of retreads for the UK.
With Continental’s acquisition of Bandvulc, the voice of independent retreading in the UK has been substantially diminished at a moment of intense market pressure and political uncertainty. Issues surrounding the at times unbelievably cheap new commercial vehicle tyres imported from China have been around for many years now, and have certainly squeezed retread output in this period. The Brexit vote has increased doubt that protectionist European market measures for which independent retreading businesses could lobby the EU to provide would be implemented in a more isolated UK market, though in the short-term the reduced value of sterling has presented opportunities for British-manufactured product. While nothing is currently clear, we will leave our readers to consider the chances of UK market protectionist measures against Chinese imports being implemented while the country redefines its trading relationship with global economic superpowers. It’s not hard to see how the security provided by merger with Conti was attractive to Bandvulc.
Vacu-Lug’s commitment to the retreading sector and the personal development of its team has been illustrated by successes in City & Guilds examination successes. The retread specialist has been entering candidates for the City & Guilds examinations for Part 1 Retread Workshop Practice for many years, and the latest successful entrants for the qualification included ten of its team members. Jason Humphries not only achieved a Distinction pass, but was awarded the highest mark nationwide. Two Credit passes awarded to Dave Alsop and Elaine Dable.