AKRON — It's beginning to sound like a broken record, but M&A — mergers and acquisitions — again influenced business development in the North American retail tire and auto service sector over the past year.
Among the top 100 or so top retailers, as many as 160 stores changed hands in a dozen separate transactions that erased a handful of industry stalwarts from the rankings.
The most aggressive in terms of M&A since September 2018 were Monro Inc. and Greenbriar Equity Group, which added 73 and 69 stores, respectively, by acquisition and have plans to continue growing via the acquisition path.
- This story appears in the Oct. 28 print edition of Tire Business.
At the same time, Reinalt Thomas Corp. — Discount Tire/America's Tire — added 45 greenfield stores to expand its network to 1,046 stores in 35 states and retain its spot atop the Tire Business Top 100 independent retail dealerships ranking.
Greenbriar's acquisitions of the past year were: Evans Tire & Service Centers Inc. of San Diego (17 stores); Lamb's Tire & Automotive Centers of Austin, Texas (18); Driver's Edge Complete Tire & Automotive of Dallas/Forth Worth (11); and Wilhelm Automotive & Tire of greater Phoenix (11).
Greenbriar, which has created GB Auto Service in Tucson, Ariz., to manage the businesses, is expected to keep growing, a spokesman for the a New York-based private equity group said.
In addition, Bridgestone Americas dipped into the independent dealers' realm, acquiring Express Tire & Auto Service in San Diego (20 stores) in the fourth quarter of 2018 to strengthen its presence in Southern California. More recently, it closed 13 of its 14 Salt Lake City-area Firestone Complete Car Care outlets after failing to negotiate a lease renewal on the locations.
At the same time, Goodyear converted its 14 Dallas-area Goodyear Auto Service stores to its Just Tires brand in an effort to reach out to consumers looking for predictability and quick service. Goodyear said it selected Dallas for this trial because it is a "vibrant city with consumers known as first adaptors of new services."
Goodyear operates 82 other Just Tires outlets in the U.S., predominantly in a handful of metro areas, including 36 in the Los Angeles area, 21 in the Chicago area and 10 in the Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
TBC Corp.'s retail group was No. 2 again this year with 733 NTB National Tire & Battery and Tire Kingdom outlets. TBC opened 18 NTB and Tire Kingdom stores in the past year, but sold or closed 16 others for a net gain of two stores.