PHOENIX—Admitting Michelin North America ``fell behind and couldn't keep pace'' last year with record demand for its tires, Michelin Americas Small Tires executives told dealers they should have plenty of tires to go around in 1999. The pledge came at the start of MAST's annual dealer meeting, held Jan. 11-15 in Phoenix. It followed a litany of apologies for what one official called a ``lousy'' fill rate that hovered ``in the low 70s.''
MAST said a goal of a 90-percent fill rate likely would be met by mid-year, thanks to some new tire plants coming on line and increased capacity at several existing factories worldwide.
In the coming months, the company plans to launch several major Michelin-brand products, including two new Pilot high performance tires. Its BFGoodrich line will grow by six new entries in three tire categories, while the company's Uniroyal NailGard self-sealing tire offerings will be expanded to include Laredo-brand P-metric, sport-utility and light-truck fitments.
All the new products will be linked to ``aggressive'' consumer advertising and marketing campaigns that will capitalize on placements during major sporting events and top-10 TV shows.
Meanwhile, Michelin's private and associate brand business—which experienced a drop in sales volume last year due, in part, to the company's inability to meet supply demands—will receive a much-needed boost, spurred by the ``resurrection'' of Riken into a ``strong associate brand,'' the firm said.
Overall, the tire maker has set a goal to increase its estimated 20-percent market share in North America by 2 percentage points in 1999.