EDINBURGH, Scotland-Kwik-Fit Holdings P.L.C., Europe's largest independent tire dealership network, posted record sales and earnings for fiscal 1996, ended Feb. 29. Earnings for the year leapt 23.4 percent to $38.8 million (at the Feb. 29 exchange rate) on a 22.8-percent jump in sales to $560.2 million. At year-end, Kwik-Fit operated 787 retail outlets and 100 mobile tire-fitting vehicles. ``This service is proving very popular with fleet operators,'' said Chairman and CEO Tom Farmer, ``and we have plans to expand to 250 (vehicles) and extend this service to specific sectors of the private motorist.''
China to get tire retail venture
TORONTO-Toronto-based South China Industries (Canada) Inc., 80-percent owner of Guilin Tire Factory in China, is forming a 50:50 joint venture with a leading Australian tire dealership to establish a network of tire distribution centers in China. This is the first such network of its kind in the country, where most tires reach consumers via small, independent shops that offer little product selection and limited service.
The venture, with Australia's Bob Jane International Pty. Ltd., hopes to open 100 outlets under the ``SCI-Bob Jane T-Marts'' name by 2001. The first will be a company-owned outlet in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, that will serve as a model for future centers, which will be franchises-still a relatively new concept in China.
Bridgestone upgrades 2 plants
TOKYO-Bridgestone Corp. has announced that it is upgrading two of its tire plants in Japan, its first major investment there in four years.
The plants, Hofu and Shimonoseki, both make off-road and earthmover tires, especially for giant construction vehicles. Bridgestone said it is spending about $46.5 million on the projects, which were prompted by growing demand for giant tires.