BLOOMINGDALE, Ill.Bridgestone Amer-icas' Retail Operations unit is phasing out its Expert Tire retail store brand, closing 15 stores in the final days of 2013 and rebranding 65 others by the second quarter of 2014.
Bridgestone Retail Operations (BSRO) will rebrand 63 Expert Tire locations to Firestone Complete Auto Care stores and two sites in Oklahoma to Hibdon Tires Plus stores.
The tire maker said its decision was based on a number of factors, including sales volume and proximity to other Firestone Complete Auto Care and Tires Plus locations. BSRO said it will reassign about 100 employees affected by the closings and offer severance benefits to fewer than 40 it is not able to accommodate.
After a careful banner review process, we determined that converting our Expert Tire stores best aligns with our strategic direction and makes the most sense for our customer base, said BSRO President Stu Crum. The stores will benefit from the brand equity inherent in the Firestone Complete Auto Care and Tires Plus names, as well as their marketing programs.
The Expert Tire stores are scattered throughout 30 states, including 14 in Texas. The stores to close are in Arkansas (two stores); Georgia (two); Montana; Nebraska; New York; Ohio; Oregon; Pennsylvania (two); Texas (three); and Virginia.
Most Expert Tire stores are open longer hours than other BSRO locations and many are open seven days a week.
Bridgestone rolled out the first Expert Tire stores in the early 1990s as part of a strategy to explore alternative retail store formats, predominantly those that concentrated solely on tire and wheel services with an emphasis on speed and more entry-level consumers. Other formats included Tire Station.
This story first appeared on www.tirebusiness.com.