Nokian Tyres P.L.C. has purchased tire retailer Goss Tire Co. of St. Johnsbury, the first of what the Finnish tire maker indicated could be a series of retailer acquisitions in the northern regions of the U.S., a big market for winter tires.
Terms of the deal, which closed Oct. 25, were not disclosed. Goss Tire operates five outlets in Vermont and one in New York, with 40 employees. The outlets will be rebadged with Nokian's Vianor retail moniker.
``The acquisition enables Nokian Tyres to increase its tire sales and to have access to the consumer sales in the U.S. market,'' said Seppo Kupi, managing director of Vianor Holding Oy, Nokian's retailing and retreading subsidiary, in a press release.
``We are aiming at further expanding the Vianor operations in the near future in the U.S. winter tire areas.''
Nokian executives did not return phone calls for further comment on the acquisition.
Adding Goss Tire's outlets expands Nokian's Vianor retail chain, which consists of 340 outlets in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and the U.S. Vianor reported $310 million in sales last year, or nearly 29 percent of Nokian's corporate sales.
Nokian owns 174 outlets, and the others operate on a franchising basis.
Goss Tire, a longtime Nokian dealer, was founded in 1897 but didn't start selling tires until the 1920s or '30s. It also sells Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brand tires.
Former Goss Tire owner Terry Sheahan declined to comment on the sale of his dealership to Nokian and referred all questions back to Nokian. However, he said he would remain with the dealership and continue overseeing its operations as general manager.
This is Nokian's second acquisition in the U.S. distribution sector. In 2005 it bought University Wholesalers Inc. of Colchester, N.Y.-a Nokian distributor for two decades prior to that-to strengthen its wholesale distribution capacity and logistics in the strategically important North American winter tire market.