Discount Tire Co. Inc., North America's largest retail tire dealership the past 20-plus years in terms of sales volume, now also sits on the top rung of the store-count ladder with 716 locations, up 49 over the firm's total a year ago.
The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based retailer's growth spurt pushed it past TBC Corp.'s Tire Kingdom Inc. network, which added 18 stores in the August 2007-August 2008 time frame, bringing TBC's store count to 688 Tire Kingdom, Merchant's Tire and NTB (National Tire & Battery) locations.
Discount Tire is set to continue its dynamic growth with at least 40 more stores either under construction or on the drawing board in the coming year, according to information posted on the firm's Web site. The dealership's founder and Chairman Bruce Halle recently disclosed his goal is to have 1,000 stores or more.
Tire Kingdom's also looking to continue its strong growth, with 35 stores on the drawing board for the coming year.
Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. sits at No. 3 with 352 company-owned stores, up 19 from a year ago. There also are 74 Les Schwab associate stores in the firm's six-state marketing area.
Canada's Kal Tire is a solid fourth with 157 retail and retail/commercial outlets in five provinces, while Monro Muffler Brake Inc. leapfrogged past Best-One Tire into fifth in Tire Business' ranking, adding nine stores in the past year to hit 142 Mr. Tire and Tread Quarters locations.
In addition, Monro is building the tire and tire-related portion of its business at selected Monro-badged outlets with its Black Gold program, which seeks to build tire sales at those locations. (See separate story on page 34.)
In addition, Discount Tire's $2.58 billion in retail-related sales is almost twice that of Tire Kingdom and Les Schwab, the Nos. 2 and 3 on the sales ranking. Discount's sales figure includes revenue from its Discount Tire Direct online/mail-order business.
Of the major dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada, Discount Tire and Les Schwab also have the highest per-store sales averages, both at $3.78 million per outlet, although Discount's online business revenue skews its average somewhat.
There were four significant mergers/acquisitions during the past year:
c Tire Guys Inc/Tire-Rama of Billings, Mont., bought Alton's Tire & Automotive of Spokane, Wash., adding Alton's 13 location in Washington and Idaho to its 32 stores in Montana and Wyoming.
c Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. of Potosi, Mo., bought D&D Tire Inc., a predominantly commercial dealership based in Fernley, Nev., but which does some retail at its 10 locations.
c Monro Muffler took over Broad Elm Auto Centers of Buffao, N.Y., a seven-store cooperative.
cRent-A-Wheel/Rent-A-Tire Inc., of Van Nuys, Calif., acquired Rent-A-Wheel of Florida, a franchisee with 10 stores in Florida and Georgia.
Other firms showing strong organic growth were:
c Superior Auto Centers of Clearwater, Fla., which added nine stores in the past year to expand to 15 locations throughout the Tampa Bay, Fla., area.
c Hennelly Tire & Auto, which opened six Tire Choice outlets in and around Fort Lauderdale, Fla., expanding to 25 stores.
There are five other new dealerships in this year's rankings, including Superior Auto mentioned above:
c Aaron Rents Inc., the rent-to-own corporation that has opened 30 Rimco stores in the past two years and is attempting to franchise the concept further.
cPneus Belisle Inc.the Boucherville, Quebec-based dealership, which added three stores in the past year, extending its network to 12 in areas surrounding Montreal.
c Pueblo Tires & Service, the McAllen, Texas-based dealership that opened two stores in the past year, expanding its network to 11 throughout southern Texas along the Mexican border. The company lost its Hamilton store for about a week earlier this year after Hurricane Dolly blew its roof off, according to President Ricky Ivey. That store is now completely repaired, and the dealership opened its 11th store, in Kingsville, in July.
c CJ's Tire & Automotive Servicesthe Birdsboro, Pa., dealership grew to 10 stores within the past year with the addition of an outlet in Orwigsburg, Pa., north of Reading.
In addition, Lamb's Tire & Auto Centers founder John Lamb Sr. sold the Austin, Texas-based dealership in May to an investors' group, which continues to operate the company under that name. (See separate story on page 27.)
Disappearing from this year's list are:
c Tirecraft Auto Centers Ltd., in Sherwood Park, Alberta, which went bankrupt earlier this year.
c Nebraska Tire, in Firth, Neb., which has been dismantled by its new parent, Countryside Cooperative. (See separate story on page 27.)
c Alton's Tire & Automotive, which was acquired in September by Tire Guys Inc./Tire-Rama.
c D&D Tire, acquired in May by Purcell Tire.
c Active Tire & Auto Centre Inc. of Toronto found franchise owners for 17 of the 25 stores it operated at this time a year ago.
Six dealerships in the rankingAmpac Tire Distributors Inc.; Belle Tire; Dunn Tire L.L.C.; Hennelly Tire; Jack Williams Tire Co. Inc.; and Tire Discounters Inc.are affiliated with American Car Care Centers Inc. (ACCC), totaling 530 outlets. Ampac's Tire Pros program accounts for 321 of the ACCC outlets.
Everybody's Oil Corp. dropped its affiliation with ACCC, instead aligning its 31 stores with Michelin North America Inc.'s Alliance program. That dealership program now counts 14 dealers as affiliated members, operating 648 outlets; five of the dealers also are ACCC affiliates.
Three dealerships in the top 100 are Big O Tires Inc. franchiseesCSB Partnership in Huntington Beach, Calif, with 21 outlets; Big O Tires itself with 28 outlets, including 12 it jointly owns with MFA Petroleum Co. in Columbia, Mo., in a venture called BORE/MPC L.L.C.; and MFA.
On the tire company side of the ledger, Goodyear is in the process of closing or otherwise divesting itself of 92 Goodyear Auto Service Center and Just Tires locations across the country. That process will shrink Goodyear's retail store network to about 600. The Akron-based tire maker is not commenting on which stores it will close or whether it will sell some outlets to independent dealers.
At the same time, Goodyear has converted its 24 remaining Allied Tires & Service outlets in Florida to Goodyear Auto Service Centers, signaling the end of a dealership name that once graced as many as 47 stores throughout central Florida.
Goodyear has owned the Melbourne, Fla.-based chain since 1999 when it bought majority ownership of Dunlop Tire Corp. from Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.
The chain itself was founded in 1976 by Stanley Hanin, who sold the business in 1989 to two Allied employees who were backed financially by Dunlop Tire, which at that time was an independent company affiliated with Dunlop Holdings Ltd.
This is the second tranche of Allied stores to be converted. Goodyear converted 23 others in late 2005 and early 2006.
Regionally, Bridgestone/Firestone's retail storesoperating as Firestone Complete Car Care and Tires Plusare the largest retailers in five of the 10 U.S. regions based on the number of outlets. Mono Muffler Brake is No. 1 in two regions, with Tire Kingdom, Les Schwab and Big O Tires the largest in one region each. (See the regional charts on pages 35 and 36.)
Tire Business Special Projects Reporter Bruce Davis can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]