Considering that only three or four tire retailers can be considered national-having outlets coast to coast-looking at retailers' strength regionally is perhaps a more accurate gauge of their relative strengths.
In that vein, Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) casts a long shadow over the retail industry, ranking among the 10 largest retailers in all 10 geographic zones, including No. 1 in five of them.
Nationally, BFS-which goes to market under three identies, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus and Expert Tire-ranks No. 1 with more than 2,000 retail outlets and more than $3 billion in retail-related sales.
Besides BFS, only Goodyear and Sears Holding Corp. have stores in all 10 regions, which are based on Rubber Manufacturers Association shipment data, natural geographic boundaries and the territorial spread of the major retailers' store networks.
>From a sales revenue point of view, Discount Tire Co. ranks No. 2 to BFS with $2.1 billion in sales nationally generated by 635 outlets in 18 states. Regionally, Discount Tire is among the top 10 in six regions, including No. 2 in two regions. (The firm operates as America's Tire in the Pacific region.)
TBC Corp., with its 642 Tire Kingdom Inc./NTB/Merchant's Tire retail stores and 540 Big O Tires Inc. franchised outlets, is present in 42 states. Big O is considered No. 1 in the Mountain states with 247 outlets there.
Les Schwab Tire upholds the independents' honor by ranking first in the Pacific region with 310 stores and fourth in the Mountain region.
Others with strong regional showings are Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack, in nine zones; and Tire Pros, the franchised outlets operated by AmPac Tire Distributors Inc., in five zones.
Distribution strength among the leading retailers is most concentrated in the New England and Pacific regions, where the 10 largest retailers make up 31 and 29 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 and 13 percent, respectively, of those regions' retail tire outlets.