The UK’s largest tyre retailer, Kwik Fit, is being prepared for a sale. The Japanese Itochu group, which owns the European Tyre Enterprises Ltd (ETEL) holding company that controls both Kwik Fit and its wholesale counterpart Stapleton’s Tyre Services, has appointed investment bankers Nomura to advise on strategic options for the company, according to Sky News, with insiders suggesting a sale is very likely.
Employees at Continental AG’s Aachen, Germany tyre factory were informed that the plant will be closed by the end of 2021. According to the German Handelsblatt newspapter, more than 1,800 employees will be affected by the closure. The announcement comes two weeks after Continental announced cost-cutting plans aiming at saving 1 billion euros by 2023.
Kumho’s next generation e-NIMF and e-TOPS tyres have been honoured with 2020 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). Having already received iF and Red Dot accolades in February and March respectively, has now won three of the world’s top design awards in the same year.
Bridgestone has announced its plan to close its Bethune plant in France. The manufacturer said that the measure is being used to reduce production overcapacity and to improve cost efficiency. The proposal could impact 863 employees. Bridgestone added that it is “fully aware of the social consequences of this project and is committed to using all means at its disposal to define support plans for each employee.” The earliest the closure would take place is the second quarter of 2021. Bridgestone’s presence in France would continue through sales and retail operations, in which it employs about 3,500, the company said.
On Friday 18 September 2020, it emerged that Kwik-Fit and European Tyre Enterprises Ltd (ETEL) owner Itochu has appointed investment bankers Nomura to act as its strategic investment consultancy with relation to the future of its European tyre business. The move has been widely interpreted as sale preparation. In light of the news, Tyres & Accessories contacted ETEL and Kwik-Fit representatives in order to find out more. Both declined to comment officially. However, supplementary information on Itochu’s third-quarter 2020 and full fiscal year 2020 results give further details of the conglomerate’s explanation as to why the company did not present a 2021 profit forecast for ETEL as it normally would.
While speculation continues relating to the apparent sale of the Kwik-Fit tyre retail business, we do know that the Itochu-owned enterprise sold the freeholds to 26 of its branches in a double-digit million-pound series of transactions during the first half of 2020.
Three leading European motoring associations have published the results of their joint 2020 winter car tyre test. The ADAC from Germany, Austria’s ÖAMTC and Swiss club TCS looked at 15 brands of tyre. While they didn’t award any of the evaluated products their top ratings of ‘very good’ (ADAC) or ‘excellent’ (ÖAMTC, TCS), the clubs noted that overall test results were positive. In addition to five strong performers, seven further tyres were recommended and one conditionally recommended. Only two tyres failed to make the grade.
In the USA, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has issued notification to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it is recalling 1,983 Cooper CS5 Grand Touring and Mastercraft LSR Grand Touring tyres. The affected tyres are 225 55R17 products, with DOT codes 2920 through to 3220.
In addition to testing car tyres ahead of this year’s colder months, three European motoring clubs have taken a close look at winter rubber for mid-sized SUVs and vans. The 13 brands of 235/55 R17 V tyre participating in this joint comparative evaluation from Germany association ADAC, Austria’s ÖAMTC and Switzerland’s TCS performed well overall, with results ranging from highly recommended/good to conditionally recommended/adequate.
Michelin has introduced an employee share ownership plan. Bib Action, as the plan is known, gives Michelin group employees the opportunity to subscribe to a rights issue reserved for them under preferential terms - namely at a discount. Michelin’s managing chairman decided to carry out the rights issue in order to “more deeply involve employees in the group’s growth and development through a dynamic relationship built on mutual commitments”. The subscription period for the five-year minimum ownership share scheme will run from 16 September to 1 October 2020. The rights issue was authorized by the Annual Shareholders Meeting of 23 June 2020 in the 22nd resolution.