Just over six months after the acquisition of the UK-based retread expert by German tire giant Continental, the two give an update on the integration of the businesses and an insight into future plans.
In July 2016, Continental acquired UK-based retreading expert, Bandvulc, having previously enjoyed a close relationship – from a business perspective and on a personal level – for almost 25 years. The plans to purchase Bandvulc, a family-owned business specializing in hot retreading and casing management, were first initialized during an informal meeting at the CV Show in 2013 by Bandvulc’s MD, Patrick O’Connell, who put forward the idea.
“We had built a very successful business as a family and we were looking to make some strategic changes, which is a healthy part of any growing business. We didn’t know how it was going to work at the time, but we met at the CV Show, mentioned it over a cup of coffee, and it just went from there,” he says.
According to the two companies, plans are ahead of schedule and integration has been seamless, without any major setbacks.
The acquisition adds Bandvulc’s retread production facility in Ivybridge, UK, to Continental’s portfolio, as well the company’s 460 employees who have joined the Conti group, its fleet management portfolio, which services around one million wheels in the UK, and five tire servicing centers, 70 mobile fitting staff, three distribution facilities and a distribution fleet.
Under the product alignment process, Continental Generation 3 retread patterns will be manufactured in Ivybridge, as well as additional sizes. Meanwhile, production will continue as normal at the ContiLifeCycle plant in Hannover-Stöcken.
“For the UK market we now have a local plant able to supply most of the Continental retread demands, manufactured close to market, which improves efficiency, availability and flexibility,” comments Arthur Gregg, transition manager at Bandvulc.
Also as part of the acquisition, in October 2016 Conti moved its casing collection and inspection process to Ivybridge, where there is the capability to inspect up to 2,500 casings per day. This combined effort enables both companies to share a larger pool of casings for mutual benefit and to support the future growth of both retread brands.
Conti retread tires will continue to use Conti casings only and Bandvulc will use Conti group casings as well as other suitable brands.
Bandvulc will also have access to Continental’s range of material handling tires for forklifts, utilizing Bandvulc’s fleet management solution. From January 2017, Bandvulc took on sales responsibility for the Uniroyal truck tire range exclusively across the UK and Northern Ireland. Alongside the Conti range, the Uniroyal range will be the preferred brand fitted to Bandvulc fleets.
“We also see wider opportunities for cooperation, for example Bandvulc is now using Continental bladders in the production process and we’re reviewing the Conti automotive portfolio for further opportunities. We’re also looking at shared warehousing and distribution, moving the truck OE fitting line in-house to Ivybridge and further opportunities with TPMS,” adds Gregg.
In addition, there are plans to install a fifth robot at the Ivybridge factory, which will further improve efficiency, and to increase the level of automation at the facility.
In the midst of the acquisition, the Brexit vote threatened to throw a spanner in the works, as neither businesses had foreseen such an outcome to the campaign. David Smith, Continental Tyre Group’s MD, says, “The Brexit vote happened the week that corporate head office were signing this deal off. That day, Arthur and I had two long, extensive calls with European colleagues, who were asking us what it meant for the business. It was very worrying, but our colleagues in Hannover still supported us and signed the deal off.”