The move is sure to be one of the biggest shake-ups in the industry for decades.
Currently the company uses a network of 987 independent garages across the country that enables customers to have tyres fitted locally. But managing director and founder Mike Welch wants to turn 700 the garages into branded franchisees of blackcircles.com.
“For too long the tyre retail market in the UK has lacked innovation and any real sense of customer focus. Our announcement is not just about selling tyres, it is cleaning up a whole industry and giving consumers greater choice and access to the most competitive tyre prices in Europe,” says Welch.
The company was founded by Welch in 2001 at the age of 23 and enabled customers to order tyres online or by phone and have them fitted at their local garage. In four years he has built the company into a £6m turnover business selling to 100,000 customers in the UK.
“Creating the franchises is a momentous step and will quadruple our sales almost overnight. By creating franchisees we are making it work for not only Blackcircles but the independent garages and dealerships which pride themselves on delivering premium service,” he says.
Garages make a small contribution for the bolt-on franchise, with branding and signage provided by blackcircles. Welch is planning to start appointing garages next year.
“The franchise is an opportunity for independent garages and dealerships to attract new customers and retain business in the face of increased competition from the national chains.”