Fleet News

Fleets hold key to end makers' dominance of tyre sales market

FLEET buyers could hold the key for independent tyre dealers in their fight for sales in a market dominated by tyre manufacturers and their equities. Mike Bridgman, chairman and chief executive of the Montinex group of fast-fit companies, is calling for independent tyre firms to use the pressure of their combined buying power with fleets to persuade manufacturers to end support for their loss-making outlets.

And he is calling for independents to work together to build sales in the fleet market to further increase their bargaining power. But he continued: 'We are not making threats. It's just that if you use your collective strength and muscle, it builds the possibilities for discussion. We need to have a collective strength because if you are a small independent how can you compete?'

In a hard-hitting call to action, Bridgman attacked what he believed was unfair support by tyre manufacturers of loss-making fast-fit outlets so they could keep market share. Bridgman said his firm's own efforts in the industry had already been shown with the recent acquisition of Fleet Tyre Management Tyrefit, giving it entry into the fleet market for the first time. FTM Tyrefit - which counts PHH Vehicle Management Services, the RAC, Lease Plan, Volkswagen Financial Services and CW Lease among its major customers - represents a network of 830 independent fast-fit centres throughout the UK It is using its six-strong sales force to try to build a stronger position in the fleet tyre market.

He told delegates at the National Tyre Distributors Association conference in Portugal: 'The equities have been allowed to enter into an easy-going comfort zone of trading by their manufacturer parents. We have all seen the outcome of this mistaken strategy with the absurd pricing on truck tyres which is now having the same effect on the car tyre market. Meanwhile independents have been forced into fierce cost-cutting, radical streamlining and product diversification. It is fair enough to maintain low prices, but surely not in an unbalanced way which flies in the face of fair competition?'

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