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Winston Tire may continue as an independent

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An investment group including Performance Management Inc. CEO Bryant Kountz and Sam Winston Jr. has put a bid on a select number of Winston Tire locations that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is currently in the process of acquiring via a bankruptcy court decision.

A recent motion by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Los Angeles Division, has allowed Goodyear to acquire all the assets of Winston Tire, which filed for Chapter 11 protection last January, "in exchange for the debt owed to Goodyear."

"We get the stores, properties, inventory -- those kinds of things," a Goodyear spokesman told mtdealer.com earlier today, "but we don't get the (Winston) name."

Goodyear will obtain 97 retail outlets as part of the deal and will convert 44 of those over to its Just Tires format, which provides limited automotive service.

The investor group with which Kountz and Winston are involved wants to buy some of the remaining stores.

"There's no definite timetable," says the Goodyear spokesman, who adds that the Akron, Ohio-based tiremaker has been in discussions with various parties regarding the future of those outlets.

Meanwhile, Goodyear has set up "an interim management company" to oversee the Winston stores' operations.

"Goodyear has been very cooperative," says Kountz, whose company bought Winston Tire from Heafner Tire Group (now American Tire Distributors) last year.

"Goodyear has been our benefactor. They've pretty much kept Winston alive."

Goodyear makes Winston brand tires for the embattled chain, which had been North America's fifth largest independent tire dealership with more than 110 outlets as recently as last summer, according to Modern Tire Dealer statistics.

Winston has closed several shops since then.

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