BOUCHERVILLE, Quebec — Unimax Tire Ltd., one of Canada's largest wholesale tire distributors and retail network promoters, plans to both consolidate and expand this year.
The Boucherville-based company, which administers the Point S marketing group in Canada, plans to expand the retail network's footprint into Ontario, Alberta and western Canada. At the same time, Unimax will consolidate its retail affiliate program by eliminating two of the seven banners it administers.
The company also plans to launch a marketing campaign to boost automotive service sales — and employment.
Unimax sells about 3 million tires annually between its wholesale (65% of sales) and retail (35%) divisions.
Unimax distributes tires to a network of wholesalers in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces and operates more than 75 tire distribution warehouses on its own and with partners.
In addition, the company operates seven retail marketing programs, covering about 860 points of sale:
- Point S — an international program with 220 stores in Canada;
- V1 — 17 stores in a brand tailored for mid-sized to large retailers that offer tires, auto service and heavy vehicle service;
- Otobox — about 140 stores in a two-year-old program tailored to small and mid-sized retailers that offer tires and auto service;
- Mega Pneu — 221 stores in Quebec that maintain their own identities;
- Pneus Prestige — about 200 stores that maintain their individual identities while benefiting from greater buying power;
- Pneus Max Plus — about 56 stores in a network of independent retailers who maintain their own identity and use the secondary banner for selling tires; and
- Tire People — a six-store network.
Unimax is eliminating two of these banners this year — Max Plus and Tire People — and bringing those stores into the Otobox or Point S networks, Patrick Lavoie, Unimax's director of communications and marketing, told Tire Business.
The eliminated programs, along with Prestige and Mega Pneu, were created initially to reserve a territory for tire retailers, he said.
Over its 40-year history, Unimax created the numerous banners it administers, except for Point S, which was launched in France by Point S Development.
"It was, maybe, good in the past, but for the future, we need to consolidate everything," Mr. Lavoie said. "It will be easier for everyone because we will put more money in marketing, more advertising and be stronger with less banners."
Unimax will keep Point S, V1 and Otobox and the other remaining sub-banners for tire retailers that already have a premium banner for auto service, such as NAPA Autopro, Mr. Lavoie said.
"In some cases, some of our dealers won't have any banners and just prefer to have Otobox because the thing is, if you go with Point S, you need to rebrand your entire store," he said. V1 retailers also have to rebrand their stores.
"It's a lot of money and not everyone would like to do it. So we will change the sign, change the pylon, minimum stuff."
Point S, V1 and Otobox come with a store identity, advertising campaigns, exclusive merchandising, an e-commerce website and other programs.