Bridgestone South Africa

Supa Quick Races to 30th Birthday

Mar 01, 2016

What's red and white, and sells 1.6 million tyres a year? The Supa Quick chain of tyre outlets, which celebrates its 30th birthday this year.

The Bridgestone-backed chain started life in 1986 with a single outlet in Port Elizabeth and has grown to be South Africa's largest countrywide fitment franchise, with over 260 stores. "Franchising tyre fitment was a novel concept back in 1986, but Firestone's MD of the time, Bill Taylor, was certain it would work, said Bridgestone South Africa's Head of Sales and Marketing  Shaun Wustmann. "His approach revolutionised the tyre fitment market, and the majority of tyres sold in South Africa nowadays are supplied through a franchised tyre fitment centre.

Firestone was subsequently purchased by Bridgestone Japan, but the Supa Quick stores are still owned and managed by individual franchisees, with support from Bridgestone. The growth of the chain reflects the growth in South Africa's motor industry. In 1986, seven motor manufacturers produced a handful of models, compared to the current market in which motorists can select from over a thousand models. With this growth has come an increased diversity of tyre sizes and replacement parts Supa Quick's stores sell over 150 000 shock absorbers, 120 000 batteries and 103 000 exhaust parts a year. More than two million customers were served last year, and the chain plans to have in excess of 300 stores in operation by 2020.

Wustmann commented that Supa Quick's growth has contributed to making motoring safer and more affordable. "If the tyre franchising model hadn't been adopted, or had been introduced much later, consumers would not have had access to our bulk buying power, so prices would have been higher, he said. "We have seen that higher prices delay a consumer's decision to replace tyres, which has an effect on road safety.

He also said that Supa Quick had revolutionised service standards in the fitment industry. "A modern tyre customer who suddenly found themselves back in the mid-1980s would be in for a shock, he commented. "Fitting and balancing four tyres could take up to two hours! Almost overnight, Supa Quick cut this by half or more.

The improvements were due mainly to the chain's policy of installing the most modern equipment in the stores and emphasising staff training as a priority. Since 1986, Supa Quick has trained several thousand staff in a broad range of technical and administrative skills.

The Supa Quick concept which changed the way everyday motorists buy their tyres is now targeting business customers too. Bridgestone recently announced it will offer commercial tyre services, including retreading, at selected Supa Quick outlets. "Our business customers have similar underlying needs to our individual clients: good service, affordability, and convenience, Wustmann said. "In future, we expect this market to expand quickly as awareness grows that a franchised tyre outlet can handle commercial tyre needs.

New fitment technology, used tyre disposal and eco-friendly tyres are some of the leading concerns for the tyre industry. "As Supa Quick enters its fourth decade, it will continue to be Bridgestone's touchpoint for these issues, Wustmann concluded.

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Bridgestone South Africa

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