COLUMBIA, Miss. — Southern Tire Mart is buying 46 GCR Tires & Service stores and six retread plants in the southern U.S. from Bridgestone Americas Inc., a deal that will expand Southern Tire Mart's reach to more than 135 commercial tire locations in 14 states.
The pending deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will extend Southern Tire Mart's reach into four new states – Alabama, New Mexico, Utah and Virginia. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Once completed, Bridgestone will have 130-plus GCR locations in the U.S. and Canada under its control, down from 200 or more at the business unit's height several years ago.
"As the largest commercial tire dealer in the U.S., our mission is to provide customers with best-in-class tires and service. To achieve this, we need a strong network of stores that are staffed by experts in the tire and service industry," Southern Tire Mart co-owners Jim and Tom Duff said.
"The purchase of these GCR locations allows us to expand our footprint in the Southern U.S. while also bringing more knowledge and expertise to our team."
The stores and retread plants being purchased by Southern Tire Mart are located in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia, Bridgestone said.
The GCR stores included in the sale will conduct business separately from Southern Tire Mart until the transaction closes, which is expected to occur in the next 30 days, the parties said.
The stores will be transitioned to Southern Tire Mart from GCR following closing. GCR said it remains focused on meeting the needs of fleet customers and has a "strong plan in place to ensure a seamless transition."
Scott Damon, president, Commercial Group, U.S. and Canada for Bridgestone Americas, said Bridgestone continually evaluates its distribution strategies to ensure it is meeting the needs of its fleet customers through both the GCR stores and the independent dealer channel.
“We believe partnering with Southern Tire Mart allows us to further strengthen our commercial tire distribution network and position the growth of our brands and fleet solutions.”
Founded in 1973, Southern Tire Mart is a leading provider of commercial truck tires, off-the-road tires and Bandag retreads. The company is based in Columbia, Miss., and operates more than 90 commercial truck tire centers in 10 states.
Business was interrupted from 1997 to 2003 when Bandag Inc. acquired its assets for its Tire Distribution Systems business. Bandag sold the business — 14 stores and six retread plants — back to the Duff brothers in 2003 as it began to dismantle the business it had built.
This is the third deal involving GCR assets over the past couple of years. In early 2018 Bridgestone closed or sold 17 stores and three retread plants in Quebec, and in mid-2017 it sold six locations, in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania to Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based McCarthy Tire Service Inc.
The GCR name is derived from the names of the business' founders — Balie Griffith, Harold Crawford and Perry Rose — who opened their first location in 1945 in Odessa, Texas. Bridgestone bought the business in 1988.