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Stapletons brand to go on tyre

The UK’s largest wholesale distributor of tyres is having a frantic end to a busy year.

In the space of a few weeks, Stapletons Tyre Services has launched an efficiency drive, closed one of its distribution centres and introduced new stock distribution methods at three of its largest remaining centres.

Stapletons has also accepted the resignation of its chief operating officer, parted company with one of its previously exclusive tyre brands and made 50 workers redundant.

This is the start of changes brought about by a major strategic review backed by Stapletons’ owner, the Japanese Itochu Corporation, which has pledged to funnel $25m (about £14m) into UK expansion over the next three to five years.

Kenji Murai, Stapletons chief executive, says the changes will help set the company apart from rivals and develop the business further into 2006 and beyond. The company will also be taking on a new exclusive tyre brand early next year.

Murai declines to comment on the chances of further closures and job losses. Stapletons has eight UK regional distribution centres – three expanded to major hubs – as well as 50 automotive retail trade centres and specialist outlets supplying the industry and agriculture.

Closure of its Dereham, Norfolk, distribution centre last month came after it had been downgraded to spillover warehousing, with customers transferred to the Letchworth hub.

Alan Denton, the former chief operating officer, left Stapletons after a year to pursue “other interests”. Murai says: “He made significant contributions to the whole business.”

Stapletons is now focusing more on mid-range sector tyres, which account for 20% of sales in the UK.

The company says it relinquished distribution of Marangoni, the upmarket Italian brand, to make way for a new mid-range Stapletons-branded tyre in a deal with a “major premium manufacturer”. Group Tyre distributes Marangoni in the UK.

Andrew Long, Stapletons head of marketing, expects the new branded tyre deal to go live in the first quarter of 2006.

“This is going to make a big impact in the market place,” he said. “Our ongoing product range review is designed to give our customers the best choice of products with the best value and delivered with outstanding customer service.

“We will be ready to tell the trade more about our new range in early 2006.”

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