Phil May, owner of Strood based RM Tyres, passed the million-pound milestone at the end of February, the peak of 12 months during which his company has seen an unprecedented increase in online sales. For all of the tyre sales processed by RM Tyres through TyreClick, 28 per cent have come in the past 12 months, an indication of the surge in consumers opting to buy their tyres online.
There have been serious challenges to tyre distribution in 2020, and while demand has returned with the end of the national lockdown, Covid-19’s autumn rise means the spectre of spring’s market conditions looms over the winter months. This year, companies have needed to manage the operational problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns throughout Europe; they also needed to weigh up wildly fluctuating supply and demand. Whether there is a return to a concerted national effort similar to the UK’s actions in April and May or not, the lessons learned during this period continue to prove relevant. Meanwhile, the sector was already experiencing difficult times prior to the outbreak, with European tyre market demand flat overall in the light vehicle sector – a situation that certainly deteriorated in the pandemic. For the October magazine’s wholesale feature, Tyres & Accessories spoke to a range of players in the wholesale sector in Western Europe to look at the lessons of this year, and how recovery is progressing. We start with Micheldever Tyre Services, a leading UK player in the light vehicle tyre market especially, which has experienced a “strong” return of demand in the second half of the year, according to wholesale director Graham Mitchell.
Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) reports that recent updates to its TyreClick website have drawn a positive response from the MTS independent dealer network, with many reporting significant increases in sales since the site was revamped.
In one of the biggest and most significant investments into TyreClick since its launch in 2014, the site updates have seen a raft of new design and user functionality features – with the new look site already delivering increased sales for the independent network of tyre dealers using it.
The reduced buying power of the pound is one of the few persistent themes in this period of Brexit induced flux. For the UK’s tyre distributors, it also compounds the effects of rising raw materials prices, and wholesalers must negotiate this period to help support retailers and their already slim margins.
Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) has launched what it terms “a major upgrade” to its TyreClick online retail site for independent customers. The company states that the upgrade represents one of the biggest and most significant investments in TyreClick since its launch in 2014, including a number of new design and user functionality features. The tyre wholesaler added that it would “never stop investing in its ambition to make TyreClick the best tyre selling site in the business” following the implementation of the new developments.
TyreClick, the website developed by Micheldever Tyre Services to help its independent customers compete for internet driven business has reported a record 29 per cent surge in sales volumes during May, making May the best recorded since the Tyreclick portal was launched.
TyreClick, the website developed by Micheldever Tyre Services to help its independent customers compete for online sales, reports that the system has generated £10 million of revenue since its launch. The milestone figure was reached when a motorist placed an order for four 255/40R18 Kumho KU39 tyres with Hucknall Tyre & Exhaust Centre in Nottinghamshire.
An influx of new vehicle registrations has driven demand for premium car tyres upwards in the UK. Yet somewhat paradoxically, the price of these products has continued to fall, further impacting the margin retailers can make versus what they can expect on lower-priced products. Tyres & Accessories sat down with Micheldever wholesale director Alan Baldwin and wholesale marketing manager Rory Carlin to discuss the premium fightback and its symptoms for dealers. “Premium brands are absolutely in the ascendancy,” Baldwin says.
In October 2014’s Wholesale feature, Tyres & Accessories asked whether Europe’s independent tyre wholesalers still have a future in the context of the German company Ihle Baden Baden’s failure and subsequent sale to Michelin. Pointing to the lightening of the business due to such factors as the price transparency offered by e-commerce (and online marketing) we wondered whether the value of the relationship between customers and their suppliers had become more tenuous, relying only on price and reliability of deliveries. Should these two considerations become the only weapons in a wholesaler’s arsenal, T&A suggested that their role becomes more akin to a specialised freight forwarder.
Micheldever Tyre Services’ wholesale business, worth £230 million in annual sales, has taken significant steps to support the on and offline operations of its independent tyre dealer customers in 2015. The added value of MTS’ services has become increasingly important in the light of continued growth in the number of retail branches controlled by the top 20 multiples (as noted in our Tyre Retail feature in the May magazine), and the increased online competition provided by internet specialists, big retail brands from within and outside the traditional tyre sector, and now, with Michelin’s acquisition of Blackcircles.com, major tyre manufacturers themselves. Alan Baldwin, sales director at Micheldever Tyre Services, told Tyres & Accessories, “I’m confident that there isn’t another wholesaler, distributor, and in many cases, manufacturer, in the UK that invests as much money, time and resources in supporting dealers as we do.”
TyreClick, a website developed by Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd to help independent dealers compete online, achieved 30,000 orders at the start of July. TyreClick currently supports almost 950 transactional websites that are linked to independent tyre retailers, each with their own local URL, thereby allowing motorists to search for their local dealers and buy tyres direct from them.
Following on from Micheldever Tyre Services’ announcement last year that its TyreClick online platform was in use by over 1000 UK tyre dealers, the well-known wholesaler is promoting its online sales platform as an antidote to the increasingly professional competition emerging online. With this in mind, Tyres & Accessories met up with wholesaler sales director Alan Baldwin at the company’s Walsall warehouse and office site just outside Birmingham at the end of June.
In the context of large chains and online specialists growing in influence, Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS), Britain’s largest independent wholesaler, distributor and retailer of tyres, states that its proprietary TyreClick solution could provide an answer for independent garage businesses. The increasing popularity of online tyre sales in European markets, recently noted by Michelin after purchasing Blackcircles.com, is resulting in increased competition for online sales from national chains and specialist internet traders. Recent movement in the online landscape has ignited the debate among independents about how they can compete, and Micheldever says it is stepping into the breach with TyreClick.