BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart Inc. has begun reopening the tire and auto service businesses at some of its Walmart and Sam's Clubs stores across the U.S., which for the most part have been idled since late March amid the company's efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent conference call with the investment community, Walmart CEO John Furner said the company is handling the reopening of certain of its business segments — like the auto care and optical centers — on a "state to state, city to city" basis where the company believes it's safe for both employees and customers.
Walmart operates Tire & Lube Centers at 2,575 Walmart stores across the country along with Tire & Battery Centers at 600 Sam's Club locations. With estimated tire and auto care-related revenue of over $3 billion, Walmart is considered one of the three or four largest purveyors of such services in North America.
Walmart idled its tire and auto centers in late March/early April, but it did not say now how many centers have reopened nor provide a timeline for restarting the rest.
At the Sam's Club stores, Mr. Furner said Walmart closed the Tire & Battery Centers temporarily and reassigned its employees from that business area to help in other "essential" areas of the stores where they're employed.
Sam's Club "will honor all existing appointments for services, and special-order tires in club or on their way to the club will be installed for our members," Mr. Furner said. "Also, we will continue to sell tires, batteries and wiper blades on a carry-out basis, with no installation.
"In accordance with state and local mandates, we are reopening some of our Tire & Batter Centers as appropriate. We encourage members to check their local club for availability."
Word of the gradual resumption of services at Walmart and Sam's Club locations coincides with the disclose by Wal-Mart Canada Inc. that it plans to phase out the Tire & Lube Express business at 106 locations throughout Canada. https://www.tirebusiness.com/news/wal-mart-close-tire-lube-express-locations-across-canada
In a separate recent conference call, Goodyear CFO Darren Wells said Goodyear's sales for the past few months have been impacted measurably by Walmart Inc.'s decision to suspend activity at most of its U.S. tire centers as well as the particularly hard economic downturn in the Northeast, where Goodyear has an above-average market presence. https://www.tirebusiness.com/news/goodyear-seeing-signs-us-retail-business-recovery