Halfords’ recent acquisition of Universal Tyres follows the acquisition of McConnechy’s Tyre Service Ltd for £8.5 million and Tyres on the Drive for £746,000 back in November 2019. The combination of the McConnechy’s and Universal purchases means Halfords now owns two of the three founding firms of ULM Services Ltd, a fleet servicing business that Universal establishing in partnership with McConnechy’s and Lodge tyres back in 2017. At the same time, Universal runs its own tyre wholesale business. So, what does the latest acquisition mean for the Universal Tyre Wholesale operation? And how was McConnechy’s commercial business folded into Halfords? For that matter, how will the businesses be integrated in general? And what does this all mean for ULM?
Beleaguered wholesale and tyre services company Kings Road Tyres is now in administration, with KPMG appointed joint administrators. The administration comes at the end of nearly a decade of turbulence for the company, which is one of the UK’s oldest tyre wholesale operations, having been incorporated in 1959.
Outside of the top five, there is a certain degree of stability amongst the remaining five companies. Those in sixth, seventh and eighth position (McConechy’s, The Tyre Group and Lodge) appear to have remained stable in terms of branch count, with 61, 58 and 40 branches respectively. However, it is worth considering all this in the context of ULM Services Ltd the fleet-orientated cooperation Universal, Lodge and McConechy’s set up during 2017. Put those three partners together and we have 119 branches and another strong contender for fifth position on the table.
In last year’s ranking of the top tyre retailers in the UK, Tyres & Accessories predicted that the pace of change in the top 20 chains by branch count would result in some jostling for position. This has proved entirely accurate, as two major acquisitions have brought two of 2017’s top 20 into the fold of higher ranked companies, leading to both Micheldever/Protyre, leapfrogging HiQ into fourth place as predicted last year, and Lodge Tyre, into the top 10 from joint-14th last year, making significant jumps in this year’s table. Most other retailers have held relatively stable positions in terms of the number of stores, while our most recent additions to the table, Eden Tyres (15 stores) and Elite Garages (13) were identified as narrowly missing out on places last year.
Universal Tyres’ Chelmsford site’s victory in the Tyre Retail Centre of the Year category at the Tyre Industry Awards has been lauded by Michelin. The site became one of Universal Tyres’ eight Michelin Certified Centres earlier in the year, after passing the Michelin Auto Professional advocate programme’s audit requirements. It impressed the award judges with its modern design, well-stocked tyre storage and skilled, polite fitting team.
The Tyre Industry Awards have been presented for 2016 during the sold-out NTDA Annual Dinner, this year hosted by the Vox Conference Centre on the site of Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. In addition to the various gongs, the NTDA presented Sir Tom Farmer with the National Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Tyre Industry, sponsored by Hankook UK, while Brian Funnell and Lennie Wells were also made NTDA Honorary Life Members. Presented by television personality Suzi Perry, the winners were decided by a panel of leading industry judges, and the results live-tweeted by Tyrepress via its Twitter feed.
Following on from the purchase of Jetyres at the end of last month, the company has shared further details of its recent growth and investment.
Universal Tyre & Autocentres is now a third and fourth generation family business with a trading history of 93 years. The company services tyre needs from cars right through to earthmovers. Latterly the company has upgraded it service offering within the car sector, as Wright explained:
Independent dealership Universal Tyres is the latest recruit to join the ranks of Michelin Certified Centres, after eight of the company’s sites comfortably passed the Michelin Auto Professional advocate programme’s stringent audit requirements.
On 30 June Universal Tyres acquired Jetyres. The deal, which was six months in the making, sees Universal add Jetyres’ four retail branches to the company’s existing portfolio of 12 tyre retail locations. With a combined total of 16 points of sale, Universal looks likely re-enter the UK top 20 in 2017 as a result of the transaction. No details of the levels of investment connected to Universal’s purchase of Jetyres have been released.
Tyres and driver training should not be overlooked when considering road safety in the context of more technological solutions, London’s leading minicab business Addison Lee states. Addison Lee’s head of fleet Rob Daniels, who looks after 5,000 vehicles, says he embraces new technology but continues to focus on the foundations of strong fleets – driver training and tyres.