NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has purchased the Gillette trademark and other marks owned by the Gillette Tire Co. in Milford, Mich., essentially putting Gillette Tire—and its Gillette/Peerless Tire Group, a private brand buying/marketing alliance—out of business. As part of the same deal revealed May 20, the tire maker entered into a long-term license agreement with Denver-based Peerless Tyre Co. to manufacture and market Peerless tires.
The Gillette and Peerless private brands—which BFS has manufactured for the group since about 1988—will become BFS associate brands managed by its Dayton Tire division.
Chuck Dierkes, president/CEO of the Gillette/Peerless group, said that, in the long run, the deal best serves the group's 35 to 40 direct customers, and the dealers they supply.
He did not think the BFS purchase would water down the exclusivity of the Gillette brand, since the tire maker is ``still honoring our customers' exclusivity....''
Earlier this year BFS combined its Bridgestone-, Firestone-and Dayton-brand marketing programs to strengthen its multi-brand strategy and make it easier for dealers to carry all three.
Dayton President Tom Crofutt said the Gillette and Peerless names ``have tremendous value in the tire marketplace,'' and their addition to the BFS lineup ``definitely strengthen our offerings to our dealers.''
Dayton will work aggressively to expand the market share and distribution of both brands, he added.
The Gillette brand originated with the old Gillette Rubber Co. in 1917, then was purchased by U.S. Rubber Co. in the 1920s. In 1981, Gillette Tire purchased the trademarks for its namesake from the old Uniroyal Tire Co., which had marketed it as an associate brand.
Mr. Dierkes, 62, formed the buying group in the mid-1980s. He plans to close the group's Milford office by the end of June.
Sam Forbes, Peerless Tyre's president, said the group's 18 to 20 active buyers will be brought into Bridgestone/Firestone as a ``subgroup'' within Dayton. The Peerless licensing agreement with BFS is for a term of five years plus options to renew.
The pact, according to Mr. Forbes, will allow his firm to maintain a viable Peerless line for its 52 retail stores.
But the deal encompassing both brands ``is clearly in the best interest of our company over the next five years,'' he said, ``and, I believe, for the existing guys in the buying group, who are better off with it than if we hadn't done it.''