LINCOLNSHIRE, England (Aug. 9, 2016) — In the wake of “Brexit,” where the citizens of the United Kingdom voted for the nation to leave the European Union (EU), an executive with U.K.-based tire retreader Vacu-Lug Traction Tires Ltd. said the firm has learned to respond to the changing demands of its market — and unpredictable political landscapes.
For the last 65 years, Vacu-Lug has been carving out its place in the U.K. tire market. The company, which employs approximately 150 people, said it has in recent years made investments in its facilities and added three tires to its Logistik and Duramold lines.
As the company prepares to build on what it described as one of its most successful years in nearly a quarter century, Managing Director Tim Hercock participated in a company-led Q&A session to discuss a growing global marketplace, Brexit and his vision for the future. Vacu-Lug provided the following transcript of that interview with Mr. Hercock:
Q. Since 2008, the global transport industry has, like most industries, needed to adapt to contracting demand. This, for many, has necessitated cost cutting, product diversification, more imaginative marketing and a return to traditional quality values in order to differentiate in an ‘over-supplied' market place. In these respects, what key steps has Vacu-Lug taken to stay ahead?
“In general terms, we have always subscribed to the principles of efficient manufacturing and our product development being market-led. Accordingly, our basic tenet is to continually invest in technology, plant and people, while developing our product range to match industry needs.
“In this regard, we are pioneers in the production of high-mileage and low-rolling- resistance tires and have led the way across many sectors, providing fleet support to keep operators cost-effective and compliant.”
Q. How is the company performing, year-on-year?
“Last year was our best for 20 years. This is as much about the intelligent use of resources as it is to do with maintaining long-term partnerships with like-minded suppliers and customers. With the common goal of maintaining high quality and value for money, we can and do make a difference together.”
Q. Brexit. Competition from traditional brands and “cheap imports” is affected not least, by currency fluctuation and “uncertainty.” What effect has this had on Vacu-Lug and does this present an opportunity for the “home-grown” premium, retread Vacu-Lug tires?
“Vacu-Lug has always aimed to deliver consistency. It is this objective which underpins our success.
“Now, with the advent of Brexit and the weaker pound, retread options can be re-examined by the market while foreign imports become less price-competitive. In so doing, businesses in the U.K. and Europe can now make the choice to switch to retreads and discover the cost and operational advantages of a truly stable product.
“Furthermore, the conditions created in the aftermath of Brexit have allowed us to galvanize our export activities in European countries such as The Netherlands and Germany. Effectively, the market is wide open for us.”
Q. Where does Vacu-Lug's strength lie in future years regarding the wide diversity of products and services which it currently provides?
"Our strength lies in our independence and fleet management capability. In this respect, we are unmatched in the U.K.
“Unlike many of the conglomerates, Vacu-Lug can draw from its strong alliances with new tire providers such as Pirelli, Westlake and Yokohama and offer a wide range of tire choice within individual fleets. Off-road, commercial, logistics, vans, new or retread, we have it covered. It's all about mixing choices relative to customer needs.”
Q. What is your vision for Vacu-Lug and what plans do you have for the future?
“We will continue spearheading into the logistics sector, where our new Logistik tire range is already exceeding expectations. The waste sector, one of our traditional markets, presents further opportunity for the management of ancillary equipment and this, like our other chosen sectors, will continue to benefit from the breadth of support provided by VMS — our advanced tire fleet management system.
“Meanwhile, we intend to widen our OTR offering and also to move into the PSV sector, where our proven supply formula of new and retread tires will give PSV operators greater flexibility of choice.”
“Our vision is clear: to maintain a trajectory of profitable growth borne from the supply of high-value, sustainably produced products in our chosen markets throughout Europe.
“Market leadership for us is not necessarily an ambition but more of a consequence: as long as we strive to be the best at what we do, we will continue to share success with our partners and customers throughout the industry.”