TBC will buy NTB stores

Sept. 22, 2003

TBC Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire 226 National Tire & Battery (NTB) locations that Sears, Roebuck & Co. put up for sale earlier this summer.

TBC will pay approximately $225 million in cash for the struggling chain, which has locations in 20 states, including several major metropolitan markets where TBC does not have a presence.

They include Dallas, Texas (36 NTB stores); Chicago, Ill. (19 NTB outlets); Boston, Mass.; Birmingham, Ala.; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.; and others.

TBC will integrate the NTB outlets into its Tire Kingdom Inc. retail chain, according to TBC President and CEO Larry Day.

The transaction, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, will boost TBC's store count by 25%, he says.

It "provides an excellent avenue to increase our volume of private brand tires, which are not currently sold by NTB," says Day.

TBC markets the Sigma, Multi-Mile, Cordovan, Big O and Fulda brands.

NTB was created in 1997 when Sears converted 278 of its nearly 300 NTW and Tire America stores to the new format.

Sears wanted to open 700 NTB outlets by 2001 at the rate of one store every four days but never came close to achieving that goal.

The Chicago, Ill.-based mass merchandiser closed more than 50 NTB stores two years ago and many more have shut down since then.

The chain still generates $425 million in revenue per year, according to TBC research.

Day says it will take six to eight months to integrate NTB into its Tire Kingdom network.

Tire Kingdom is the second largest independent tire store chain in North America with more than 350 stores, according to Modern Tire Dealer statistics.

Earlier this year, TBC acquired Mannassas, Va.-based Merchant's Inc., which had more than 110 outlets.

The Merchant's facilities also were integrated into Tire Kingdom.