MTD exclusive! More on Cooper-Sears supply deal
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s new tire supply contract with Sears Holdings does not mean the company is abandoning its focus on the independent tire dealer channel, says Phil Caris, vice president of sales and marketing for Cooper's North American Tire division.
This month, Cooper began supplying two exclusive lines -- the Sears Guardsman Plus and the Cooper Response Touring tire -- to more than 850 Sears Auto Centers throughout the country.
The Guardsman Plus is offered in 18 sizes, while the Response Touring comes in 16 sizes.
The Sears agreement fills an important niche, Caris recently told www.moderntiredealer.com. "As we looked at our strategy, one of the areas where we were definitely under-represented was in the national retailer space."
Cooper had "a very strong relationship with Sears a number of years ago. That relationship wound down. We had not sold them tires for a number of years."
Two years ago, Cooper approached Sears about possibly supplying tires to the chain again. The parties came to terms, and Cooper began developing the Guardsman Plus and Response Touring tires nine to 12 months ago, according to Caris.
"The majority of the tires will be built in the U.S. and there are some SKUs coming in from China and our Mexico operations.... but the lion's share of the product will be manufactured in the U.S."
Additional opportunities to supply tires for Sears are possible, says Caris. "As we manage growth with companies like Sears, we're trying to do it in the proper fashion, so we can sell our products across (various) channels but remain a good supplier in terms of quality and profit opportunities.
"The relationship with the dealer channel has been the mainstay of our business and we will continue to see that be a very important part of our business."