Goodyear has expanded the distribution reach of the Dunlop brand by at least 1,250 outlets by agreeing to sell the brand through Sam's Club stores and through TBC Corp.'s retail network-Big O Tires Inc. franchised stores and Tire Kingdom Inc. outlets.
Goodyear also signed new distributors in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions but declined to identify them. News of the new distribution agreements was made in Goodyear's monthly investor update for October.
In the agreement, Big O, a subsidiary of Memphis-based TBC Corp., has become an authorized distributor of the Goodyear and Dunlop brands. Individual stores can buy up to 19.5-inch size tires through Goodyear's wholesale tire centers or company-owned stores-a move that cuts out several middlemen, said Big O President John Adams.
``From our perspective, the biggest advantage is the ability to work through different distribution channels and billing channels to allow the products to get into our stores faster,'' Mr. Adams said.
With paperwork being shuffled across several desks, it previously could take weeks for Big O stores to get invoices for the Goodyear and Dunlop tires they sold.
But under the new partnership between Big O and Goodyear, the invoices appear electronically in as few as 48 to 72 hours, Mr. Adams said Big O had a similar partnership with Kelly tires since 1991, and TBC had one with Goodyear for over 40 years, he said.
``This is really an extension of that partnership in an effort to do more business with Goodyear,'' he said.
Many Big O stores may have shied away from selling Goodyear and Dunlop brands under the former program because of the lag time in receiving invoices, he said.
``The last thing you want to do is get an invoice three weeks from now and go, `Did I get that tire?''' he said. ``It's got to be pretty close to when that tire was delivered so everyone remembers what happened.''
A Goodyear spokesman said the new partnership makes the relationship more direct.
``Some outlets were buying through wholesale tire centers and other sources, but now this is across the board,'' he said.
The program is available to all Big O locations, though some may not use it because of distance from Goodyear wholesale centers.
Mr. Adams said Big O does not have similar arrangements with other tire manufacturers, though he sees possibilities for more in the future. Big O's 564 stores sell Big O, Fulda, Goodyear, Dunlop, Michelin, BFGoodrich, Continental, Pirelli and Uniroyal brands.
But if Big O sells more Goodyear and Dunlop tires, Mr. Adams said he doesn't expect to see a dip in Big O brand sales. Instead, it means Big O stores will be able to satisfy-and service-customers who want to buy the Goodyear brands.