HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.-Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has netted a larger share of the Sears Automotive Group's private brand tire business, displacing Michelin Americas Small Tires and Continental General Tire (CGT) as suppliers to the giant retailer. In an announcement March 15, Sears, Roebuck and Co. awarded Cooper a new contract including a larger share of the Group's Sears-brand tire production.
Cooper, which already builds tires for Sears subsidiaries Western Auto, NTW and Tire America, now also will produce a large share of the private brand tires, including the Guardsman line, for Sears stores.
Other Sears-brand tire suppliers, Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp., Yokohama Tire Corp. and Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., will continue to supply the Automotive Group, but to a different extent, said Sears' Public Relations Manager Bob McHenry, declining to discuss share percentages.
Sears, however, will phase out Michelin and CGT in late 1995 through 1996 as private brand suppliers. The two manufacturers will continue to produce the so-called co-branded tires, such as the Roadhandler.
``It's not that we're unhappy with General and Michelin, but that Cooper came to us with a very attractive package,'' Mr. McHenry said.
There was no one specific factor that affected the decision, stemming from a six-month evaluation of suppliers, he added. But it was based on an overview of a number of factors, including the suppliers' plants, management, capacity, product quality and their working relationships with Sears.
The Automotive Group's supplier assessment was one of many undertaken throughout the corporation as part of Sears' ``strategic sourcing review'' begun about two years ago, Mr. McHenry said. The reviews take about six to eight months to complete.
The Automotive Group is now evaluating suppliers for its co-branded and name brand tires, he said.
Part of the significance of the new tire supply contract, according to Mr. McHenry, is that the buyers of Western Auto and the Sears stores coordinated their efforts for the first time since Sears bought the automotive supply retail chain in 1988.
The two entities are the top two auto aftermarket retailers of tires, according to Mr. McHenry. ``Put us together and we're a strong No. 1. It gives us good reason to coordinate our discussions with suppliers.''