Based on total outlets and retail sales volume, Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) is considered the largest tire retailer in North America, and its strength shows up regionally as well.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker-with more than 2,000 retail outlets and upwards of $2.5 billion in sales-ranks among the 10 largest retailers in all 10 geographic zones. And the company takes the top spot in five of the 10 with its Firestone Tire & Service Centers, Tires Plus and Expert Tire outlets.
BFS has said it is reviewing the image and strategy of its retail business and is test-marketing a name change for its Firestone service centers, possibly to Firestone Complete Auto Care. The company also has stated it wants to add 100 outlets in the coming few years.
>From the independent dealers' point of view, TBC Corp.'s regional strengths show up both in its wholly owned Tire Kingdom, NTB (National Tire & Battery) and Merchant's store networks and in its franchised Big O Tires outlets.
Tire Business' analysis of the market geographically shows Tire Kingdom/NTB/Merchant's among the 10 largest retailers in six of the 10 zones, including No. 1 in the South Atlantic and No. 2 in the Southeast.
Big O makes the top 10 in four regions, including No. 1 in the Mountain zone.
Discount Tire Co. Inc., No. 2 nationally in terms of outlets, has a presence in five of the 10 regions, including solid No. 2 positions in the Mountain and Southwest Central regions.
The Pacific Northwest's Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc., No. 3 nationally among independents, is No. 1 in the Pacific and No. 4 in the Mountain regions.
Tire Business' regional breakdowns are based on Rubber Manufacturers Association shipment data, natural geographic boundaries and the territorial spread of the major retailers' store networks.
Other retailers showing regional strength are Goodyear-with its Goodyear Auto Centers, Just Tires and Allied Tires chains-and Sears, Roebuck and Co., both of which also show up in all 10 regional Top 10 listings.
Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack shows up in nine zones, and Tire Pros, the franchised outlets operated by AmPac Tire Distributors Inc., appears in five zones.
Distribution strength among the leading retailers is most concentrated in the Pacific and New England regions, where the 10 largest retailers make up 34 and 32 percent, respectively, of total retail tire outlets there.
The Northwest Central (or Great Plains states) and Southeast Central regions are the least concentrated, with the 10 largest retailers accounting for only 12 percent of those regions' retail tire outlets.