PORTLAND, Ore.Dealer marketing cooperative Tire Factory is joining the internationally active Point S group in a deal that will lead to the renaming of the 200-plus Tire Factory locations in the coming 18 months.
Concurrently, Pneus Unimax Ltee. of Boucherville, Quebec, disclosed its 100-plus Unipneu members will be adopting the Point S name as well, solidifying a relationship Unimax and Point S signed in 2012.
Tire Factory CEO John Kreidel said the move is being made to improve the group's brand awareness and increase its buying power.
Lyon, France-based Point S Development represents independent dealer groups in 27 countries comprising 3,300 points of sales operating under its banner with purchases of more than 16 million tires annually.
Tire Factory has grown in the West for 32 years, Mr. Kreidel said, but the members and the board realized that to continue to grow and remain relevant in a changing market, we needed to improve our brand and increase our buying power.
After looking at many alternatives, we decided to join hands with over 3,000 independents worldwide who fly the Point S flag and who are made up of independent store owners just like Tire Factory.
The deal with Tire Factory replaces one Point S signed in 2011 with Independent Tire Dealers Group (ITDG). Point S also approached Tire Factory that same year, Mr. Kreidel said. but instead opted to ally with ITDG.
Tequesta, Fla.-based ITDG and Point S dissolved that alliance earlier this year by mutual agreement, according to Ed Long, executive vice president of sales and marketing for ITDG, who told Tire Business that ITDG sought to end the three-year-old business alliance because the anticipated synergies between the groups just didn't materialize.
From the beginning ITDG had singled out Point S's proprietary tire brand program as a key element, but it turned out that program was a bit too Euro-centric and didn't offer enough SKUs suitable for the North American market, he said.
At the same time, one of Point S's core business principles is to get the Point S name into the retail arena. Mr. Long said a large percentage of ITDG's members were decidedly cool to this idea, since they felt they already had strong brand recognition in their respective markets.
In contrast, Tire Factory's dealer members appear to embrace the idea of adopting the Point S identity for their stores.
Changing our name was taken very seriously but it's the right thing to do, Mr. Kreidel said. Tire Factory is a well-known brand, but standing together with over 3,300 other independents, using the Point S brand was compelling to our long-term marketing strategy.
Point S stands for service point, he noted, and thus reflects the Tire Factory group's local store brand for selling both tires and automotive services.
The customer will really only notice three changes, according to Eric Gill, chairman of the Tire Factory board. The name on the stores will change. Second, they will find a great line, Point S-branded products, in our stores. And third, customers will appreciate remodeled stores with an updated and fresh Point S brand.
One of the big draws for Point S membership is that group's buying power, Mr. Kreidel said. Over time he said he expects the Tire Factory member companies will be adding Point S-branded tires and auto accessories.
Fabien Bouquet, deputy managing director of Point S Development, the international headquarters of Point S, called the decision by Unimax and Tire Factory to use the Point S trademark in their respective networks an historic decision [that] supports our mutual target to build up the largest North American independent tire dealer network.
Mr. Kreidel said his cooperative will keep the Tire Factory name as a registered trademark but will be phasing out its use over the coming 18 months.
Portland-based Tire Factory consists of 157 members operating more than 200 stores in 15 western states, generating combined retail sales of more than $300 million annually.
Tire Factory operates distribution centers in Denver, Portland and Salt Lake City.
Tire Factory was founded by five independent tire store owners in 1983, who decided they could save their customers some money by combining their purchases, Mr. Gill said. Today, 157 owners are doing the same thing on a bigger scale, getting better prices for their customers, by joining hands with Point S.
In Canada, Unimax anticipates converting its 115 Unipneu locations to Point S signage initially and to have 250 stores operating under that brand by year-end 2016. The bulk of these stores are in Quebec and Ontario, but Unimax is considering a stronger move into western Canada in the near future, according to Patrick Lavoie, director of communication and marketing.
Unimax also has affiliated stores operating under the Megapneu and Pneus Prestige banners.
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