Looking ahead, several major dealerships have outlined aggressive growth plans for 2022 and beyond. Among them:
• Belle Tire Distributors plans to open up to 60 retail stores in the Chicago metro area in the coming three years as part of an overall strategy to grow to 200-plus stores throughout its Midwest base of operations (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois). The first four stores are scheduled to open before year-end.
• Monro has identified the U.S. Southwest as its next area of targeted expansion, both in terms of acquisitions and greenfield stores.
Monro has had success in building its presence in the West — California, Idaho and Nevada — but is "missing a lot of space out in the Southwest," CEO Mike Broderick told analysts in a May conference call. "We don't have many stores (there], but where we have opportunities to fill in, we will."
Mono's growth plans include greenfield construction as well as acquisitions, Mr. Broderick noted, stating: "... if we can't find viable M&A opportunities, we will start building our own stores," he said.
• Cincinnati-based Tire Discounters, the No. 10 dealership with 150 locations spread across six states, is adding franchising to its business portfolio to complement a growth strategy that management contends could see the company's brand expand nationwide.
While much attention in the past year was focused on dealerships' acquisitions of retail locations, three of the major players underwent ownership changes of their own.
Meritage Group L.P., a California- and New York-based investment group, acquired control of Les Schwab Tire Centers by buying out the shares owned by founder Les Schwab's family.
Meritage Group is a family-owned private investment firm with assets under management in excess of $10 billion. Founded by noted investor and climate activist Nat Simons in 1997, the group pursues investment strategies in public and private equity, credit and real estate.
Meritage Group has offices in San Francisco, Greenwich, Conn., and New York City.
The sale is expected to be completed by year-end; the purchase price is not being disclosed. Les Schwab posted sales of $1.9 billion in 2018, the last year for which financial results are available.
BayPine L.P. acquired majority ownership of Mavis Tire Express Service Corp. in partnership with TSG Consumer Partners LP (TSG) and existing equity-holder West First Management (WFM), a holding company controlled by David and Stephen Sorbaro, co-CEOs of Millwood-based Mavis.
Leonard Green & Partners of Los Angeles acquired majority ownership of Sun Auto Tire & Service Inc. — known previously as GB Automotive — from Greenbriar Equity Group Inc.
Greenbriar, which founded GB Automotive in 2017, remains a shareholder in the company. Greenbriar began building GB Automotive in 2017 with the acquisition of Brake Max Car Care Centers of Arizona.
In addition, Commercial Tire of Meridian, Idaho, converted to an Employee Owned Stock Partnership (ESOP). Bob Schwenkfelder, founder and CEO of Commercial Tire, told BoiseDev earlier this year that looking out for the company, its employees and customers had been a major concern.
"Selling the company could create unwanted change and instability for the people we care about," Mr. Schwenkfelder said. "This transition is about leaving a legacy for our employees and in our communities that will have a lasting, positive impact."
The Top 100 dealerships collectively operate 9,001 points of sale, up 3.5% over 2020.
Looking at the top 100 dealerships by affiliation, 14 dealerships with more than 300 points of sale are franchised businesses, including:
- Seven Big O Tires franchisees, with 174 points of sale.
- Three Car-X Tire franchisees, with 67 stores, in addition to 57 operated by franchisor Monro Inc.
- Two Point S dealers in the U.S. with 44 locations, and two in Canada with 30 locations.