PHOENIX—Heafner Tire Group Inc. has found buyers for nine of the 10 Tire Outlet Plus retail stores it operated in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and will seek a buyer for the 10th once it wraps up business details regarding its exit from the Phoenix area.
Heafner started its withdrawal on Feb. 2, when it agreed to sell an eight-bay store in Mesa, Ariz., and five undeveloped sites in the Phoenix metro area to Purcell Tire & Rubber Co.
Heafner decided to exit the tire retailing business in Arizona this year after determining the cost of expanding its retail presence there was too great. However, the company will continue to serve retail tire dealerships in the area through its CPW wholesaling business, according to J. Michael Gaither, executive vice president of Heafner.
The company sold the nine stores individually, said Dan Brown, vice president of Winston Tire, Heafner's West Coast retail operation. Besides Purcell, local dealerships that have bought stores include Fletcher's Tire & Auto, Discount Tire Co. and Sun Devil Auto.
In addition, Advanced Auto Service & Tire Center is negotiating to buy two locations. If the deal for these two is finalized, they would be Advanced Auto's fifth and sixth new stores opened this year, according to Brandon Carnahan, vice president of retail sales for Tarragon Enterprises Inc., which owns Advanced.
Founded 12 years ago by Paul Couture, Tarragon/Advanced Auto grew steadily to six Phoenix-area stores before making a big leap in the past months, acquiring three downtown Phoenix locations from Fletcher's Tire and an Eagle Tire store which had been operated by Goodyear, Mr. Carnahan said.
The purchases coincided with the founding of Tarragon's wholesale business, Tire Partners, and becoming the only Goodyear G3 dealership in Arizona, he said, adding that "the Fletcher's stores are large enough that we can operate wholesale and retail from the same location."
Tire Partners wholesales the G3 brands—Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield and Dunlop—the Kelly associate brand, Star, and Sumitomo.
Advanced Auto's outlets range in size from six to 12 bays, Mr. Carnahan said, although most are "typical Goodyear-type eight-bay" stores. Besides Advanced Auto's 12 Phoenix area stores, there are nine Goodyear company stores in the metro area.
Advanced Auto also operates two stores in northern Arizona. Mr. Carnahan did not comment on the purchase prices for the new stores.
For its part, Purcell plans to build new stores on the sites it acquired, and expand its presence in the area to 17 stores before year-end.
Heafner acquired Tire Outlet Plus in early 1999 as part of its purchase of California-based Competition Parts Warehouse (CPW), but has been unable to build the chain into a strong enough competitor to compete effectively with Discount Tire Co., Purcell, Fletcher's Tire & Auto Service, and others, Mr. Gaither said.
Tire Outlet Plus operates under the auspices of Heafner's Winston Tire division.
The Phoenix metro area is home to more than a hundred tire retailers, led by Discount Tire with 40 stores, Big O with 28 locations, Fletcher's Tire with 23, Firestone Tire with 20, and Advanced Auto and Purcell with 12 each.