RIVIERA BEACH, Fla.—TBC Corp. continued to bulk up its Tire Kingdom Inc. (TKI) retail subsidiary with the recent purchase of Paul Lewis Discount Tire and Auto Service, a 10-store retail chain in Jacksonville, Fla.
The transaction, for an undisclosed sum, brings TKI's outlet total to 173 and its employee roster to more than 2,000 in four southeastern states. The chain, which operates out of Riviera Beach, said in a Jan. 24 announcement that the Paul Lewis deal expands and "solidifies its market dominance in the Jacksonville area."
Established in 1954, Paul Lewis Discount Tire is one of the oldest tire retailers in northern Florida, with annual retail sales of more than $8 million. It was owned and operated by the Lewis family for 47 years, according to TKI.
A TBC spokesman told Tire Business the Paul Lewis stores will be converted to Tire Kingdom outlets as soon as possible but will continue to be staffed by current Lewis personnel.
The acquisition was the third in recent months for Tire Kingdom, which itself was bought in June 2000 by Memphis, Tenn.-based TBC for $45 million in cash.
In December 2000, TKI purchased two Wildcat Tire stores in southern Georgia and a pair of B & C Tire outlets in northern Florida. Not long afterward, the firm extended its geographic footprint along the Gulf Coast when it acquired Louisiana's Lucas Tire, adding 10 stores in the greater New Orleans area to its total.
Tire Kingdom President and CEO Orland Wolford said the company will continue evaluating opportunities for growth and for "extending our presence in many new geographical areas."
TBC President and CEO Larry Day echoed that, saying the company's plans call for the continued expansion of the Tire Kingdom system "by opening new locations and completing other strategic acquisitions."
Merging TKI and its 148 stores into its fold was TBC's first major venture into direct ownership of retail outlets. Although in 1996 the company added Colorado-based Big O Tires Inc. to its holdings, that chain of almost 500 retail stores is primarily operated through franchisees and has only a few company-owned locations.
However, the TBC spokesman said the company is equally comfortable as a retailer and a franchiser and plans to add to both ventures.