PORTLAND, OreThe forces behind the Point S tire and auto service marketing program are moving ahead aggressively toward establishing the brand in the U.S. and Canada, and Mexico is on their radar as a potential extension for the brand.
Taken together, the number of Pneus Unimax Ltd. and Tire Factory Group members who have rebranded in the first full year of their respective alliances stands at 290, according to Fabien Bouquet, CEO of Point S International and Point S North America.
The two groups expect up to 60 more to rebrand yet this year, Mr. Bouquet said at the Point S Canada Congress held June 1-2 in Quebec City, Quebec.
...We are glad to see that our banner is so well represented on the American continent, Mr. Bouquet said.
The franchise groups have adopted a common consumer advertising/promotion themeNo Stress, with Point Sa campaign that earned Point S Canada top honors among its Point S peers at the group's international gathering earlier this year.
Point S and Unimax forged their alliance in 2012 and Tire Factory Group agreed to ally with Point S in 2015.
For Unimax, allying with Point S allowed the Boucherville, Quebec-based wholesaler to harmonize our approach to the aftermarket, Unimax/Point S Canada President and CEO Bruno Leclair told Tire Business earlier this year in a conversation at the Point S/Tire Factory dealer meeting in Portland.
We were using the Unipneu banner for 36 years, he said, and over the years we created and acquired other banners. It became confusing,...hard to harmonize.
Now committed fully to the Point S brand, Unimax has phased out the Unipneu brand, Mr. LeClair said, noting that he expects eventually to have upwards of 300 dealers flying the Point S flag in eastern Canada.
He described the decision to phase out Unipneu in favor of Point S as a leap of faith, but a leap based on Point S's track record of delivering value-added benefits across the spectrum.
No matter which Point S you go to, you'll know the level and quality of service you'll receive, Mr. Leclair said, referencing Best Buy as a model of similar consistency.
For now the company is concentrating on its existing dealers throughout Quebec and the Maritimes ProvincesNew Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward IslandMr. Leclair said. Unimax, through the Unipneu network, claimed to have a 40-percent share of the Quebec market.
Mr. Bouquet said the pace of conversion in Canada154 outlets in nine monthsis a record for Point S throughout the world. Point S claims to have 3,400 outlets under its flag now in 30 countries.
At the same time, Point S Canada is gearing up to recruit dealers throughout Ontario who are outside the Unipneu sphere, Mr. Leclair said.
To do so, Unimax/Point S will have to offer some sort of subsidy to help those converting pay for the expense of rebadging and in some cases remodeling their stores to fit the Point S image.
Next to Quebec, Ontario is Canada's largest vehicle aftermarket.
Mr. Leclair also noted the timing of the decision to ally with Point S coincided with the emergence of the Internet as a serious threat to the independent dealer's traditional strength as the industry expert.
So we had to review (the market), we had to be different and retain our advantage, he said. Point S came in with solutions that helped us see the future in different ways.
Mr. Bouquet also noted that a fundamental of Point S is the independent nature of those flying the Point S flag.
Dealers who are second, third or even fourth generation, he said, they're not willing to sell out to a major player, to lose their identity. With Point S they keep their local ID alive.
While the U.S. and Canadian programs have no direct overlap, Mr. Bouquet said that under the Point S umbrella they have common North American vendors, which leads to volume purchasing benefits, a dedicated private brand line and synergies in information technology and training programs.
Moving forward, Point S also is working on a business-to-consumer image campaign for North America and is evaluating ways to help member dealers broaden their auto service offerings.
Mr. Bouquet also noted that Point S is a joint venture partner in Europe with Mobivia Groupa holding company for a number of auto center chainsin a buying company called Alianco S.A., which wields a buying power of roughly 22 million tires a year.
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