Predicting Tire Brand Addition and Subtraction at Pep Boys

Bob Ulrich
Posted on October 29, 2015

I am just going to come out and ask what everybody wants to know: Which brands will the Pep Boys stores sell now that Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC?

Bridgestone hasn't said yet, and I have no doubt those decisions are still being finalized. I also have no doubt there will be some changes.

Let’s take a look at who is selling what. Pep Boys, through its 777 stores in the U.S. (and an additional 27 in Puerto Rico), offers BFGoodrich, Continental, Cooper, Falken, Hankook, Michelin, General, Pirelli, Carlisle Maxxis, Mickey Thompson and Starfire (a Cooper associate brand). It also sells private brand tires such as Definity.

Bridgestone Retail Operations has close to 2,200 company-owned stores. Firestone Complete Auto Care stores account for more than 1,600 of that total. Bridgestone also does retail business as Tires Plus and Wheel Works.

Firestone Complete Auto Care sells Bridgestone, Firestone, Primewell and Toyo.

Tires Plus sells Bridgestone, Firestone, Primewell, Falken, General, Goodyear, Continental, Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama.

Wheel Works sells Bridgestone, Firestone, Primewell, Falken, Yokohama, Michelin and Pirelli.

The only common denominator at Bridgestone retail stores is the Bridgestone, Firestone and Primewell brands. I don’t think it is a stretch to say at least the Bridgestone and Firestone brands will be added to the Pep Boys lineup.

So, which brands will Bridgestone keep at Pep Boys? Conversely, which brands will be removed from Pep Boys by the competing tire manufacturers?

Eight non-Bridgestone brands are represented in at least one of Bridgestone’s retail chains, so that doesn’t help a lot. The only major brands at Pep Boys not a part of Bridgestone are Cooper and Hankook.

Cooper also produces the Pep Boys’ private brand offerings, so I am guessing there will be no change there. Interestingly, there is no Korean brand sold at the Bridgestone retail stores.

One of Bridgestone’s biggest competing brands, Goodyear, is sold in some of the company-owned stores, but I am guessing it won’t be added to Pep Boys outlets. Even though they are sold in some of the Bridgestone outlets and in Pep Boys, Michelin and BFGoodrich are not the main brands at Pep Boys. As such, it wouldn't surprise me if they were eliminated from Pep Boys by either Michelin North America Inc. or Bridgestone.

Pep Boys has advertised its association with Hankook, Cooper and Falken heavily for years. If Bridgestone believes the brands go hand-in-hand with Pep Boys, that could be the determining factor.

That could change, however, if the Pep Boys outlets get turned into, say, Firestone Complete Auto Care Stores, which could happen.

In a filing with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of Pep Boys, Bridgestone addressed whether or not the stores will continue to operate under the Pep Boys name or convert to a Bridgestone Retail Operations (BSRO) brand. Here's what the company wrote.

"Consumers buy from whom they know and trust. BSRO currently operates multiple store brands. We will evaluate the brand equity of both the BSRO and Pep Boys locations on a market-by-market basis to guide our decisions about store branding in a process that will occur over time."

For more information on the purchase, check out these links:

"Bridgestone is Acquiring Pep Boys for $835 Million."

"What the Bridgestone/Pep Boys Deal Means."

"Dealers: How the Bridgestone/Pep Boys Deal Affects You."

Related Topics: Bridgestone Retail Operations, mergers and acquisitions, Pep Boys, SEC

Bob Ulrich Editor
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