By Stephen Downer, Special to Tire Business
MEXICO CITY, Mexico — South Korea's Kumho Tire Co. Inc. is aiming to almost double its sales to 600,000 replacement tires in Mexico this year after opening its first representative office in the country in mid-2015.
“Last year Kumho was still working through direct importers and sold 350,000 replacement tires,” Javier Echenique, sales director, said in a Feb. 5 telephone interview with Tire Business.
“In 2016 my goal is 600,000 tires — 50,000 tires per month.”
Mr. Echenique, who joined Kumho in August 2015 after almost five years as national sales manager for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. de Mexico S.A. de C.V., said he's optimistic about the company's goal.
“Fifty-four percent of the (replacement tire) market in Mexico belongs to Chinese brands,” he said, adding that in some cases Chinese manufacturers send five different brands to the market.
“Distributors in Mexico are looking for something more formal,” he added.
According to Mr. Echenique, Kumho tires have been available in Mexico for 20 to 25 years, but only through a purchasing or representative office that used to handle imports. “There was no marketing support or contact with the government. That changed last year.”
Kumho named Jin Young Kim CEO for Latin America, based in Mexico. “In the short term we plan to open a dealership network to have a national presence. My goal is to have this within a year,” Mr. Echenique said.
But he noted that the Kumho brand requires a great deal of advertising support. “Right now we are not talking about an advertising budget. I need a budget to allow me to start spending.”
Currently, he said, he is allowed to spend 1 percent of his sales on marketing efforts.
Mr. Echenique said that during his time with Cooper Tire the company increased its market share in Mexico to 7 percent from 3 percent.
Stephen Downer is a Mexico-based freelance writer who covers that country and Latin America for Tire Business and its Latin America e-newsletter.