WINNIPEG, Manitoba-Eleven Canadian Tire stores in Manitoba are serving as the western test market for the chain's newest retail concept, which features an expanded selection of national brand tires as well as enhanced customer service. The concept, which debuted in August at four stores in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, marks the first time the 74-year-old retail chain has offered an array of national tire brands alongside its proprietary Motomaster line-Canada's No. 1 selling tire brand.
Canadian Tire stores have been carrying the Goodyear Ventura line since April. But those with the chain's newly expanded brand selection are inventorying 140 new tire SKUs that include the:
Goodyear Spectra, Eagle RH and Wrangler HT;
Michelin XW4/XZX and XGT4;
Uniroyal Laredo AWT; and
Pirelli P300 and P600.
``Canadian Tire was founded on the sale of tires,'' said Glenn Root, senior director, tires and service, for the Toronto-based retail chain. ``It makes sense that we become the tire specialist with the best selection and the best prices in town.''
According to Mr. Root, the company's new national brand tire offerings carry the same warranties and customer benefits as its Motomaster line-which comes with free installation and periodic rotation, a roadhazard warranty providing for free flat repair as well as free brake and shock inspection every 10,000 kilometers (approximately 6,000 miles).
By expanding its brand offerings, Canadian Tire hopes to increase its replacement market penetration, Mr. Root explained.
The chain's 726 independently owned associate stores are a familiar sight in cities and hamlets all across Canada, where 85 percent of the country's consumers live within 15 minutes of a Canadian Tire outlet.
Open seven days a week and offering tire and automotive service from as early as 7:30 a.m. to as late as 9 p.m. on weekdays, the typical Canadian Tire outlet boasts 10 service bays.
Mr. Root said the company chose Manitoba for its marketing test because associate stores there, varying in size from small to large, are representative of those in the country as a whole.
He said the results of the Manitoba marketing test will be evaluated and later may be used to prepare a possible ``national rollout'' if the concept proves successful. He said it was too soon to say when this might occur.
Seven of the stores involved are in the Winnipeg area; the remaining four are in the outlying communities of Selkirk, Steinbach, Winkler and Brandon, Manitoba.
Mr. Root said the expansion resulted from surveys identifying the three most important priorities of Canadian Tire's customers when buying tires-good product selection, low price and exceptional service.
Canadian Tire stores in the Manitoba area, as well as those in the earlier Ontario test, boast dedicated tire bays to help ensure customers of prompt service.
Participating stores also are preparing their service personnel to provide comprehensive knowledge of the company's new tire offerings.
``There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle,'' said Mr. Root. ``We're not simply putting tires into the stores. We're doing a lot of training with our people, reorganizing the way we receive and process customers through.''
The Manitoba program was launched Oct. 20 using full-page ads in two Winnipeg newspapers, daily commercials on area radio and television stations, and in Canadian Tire's weekly ad flyers and periodic catalogs.