Following its acquisition of Bandvulc last July, Continental has reported that the integration of what was the UK’s largest independent retreader into the Continental Group is proceeding according to plan. Speaking at a press conference in Central London, Continental’s UK Managing Director David Smith spoke of a “great opportunity” that was “a game changer in the UK.” Describing the two-year negotiation that resulted in the acquisition, Smith emphasised the “great cultural fit” between the two companies. “It was like talking to ourselves,” he added.
Since the acquisition, Continental has put a comprehensive integration plan into place, which is being managed by Arthur Gregg, who is moving to Devon to oversee the project. Gregg, meanwhile, has been replaced as Sales and Marketing Director, Truck by Mat Wilkinson, who has joined the company from Bridgestone EMEA.
Currently Continental is drawing its retread requirements from both Bandvulc and Continental’s new retread plant at Stoecken in Germany, although according to Gregg, the medium term plan is that the majority of tyres required for the UK market will be made at Bandvulc’s Ivybridge plant. With this in mind, product alignment has already started at Ivybridge, with Bandvulc having already moved over to new Continental patterns as well as having added several new sizes. Investments in plant and equipment also include the additional of a new robot, which will help optimise production efficiency in Ivybridge.
According to Gregg, both Continental and Bandvulc branded retreads will continue to be manufactured in Ivybridge with Contire using Continental brand casings only, and Bandvulc using Continental as well as other brands. Continental has acknowledged the significant casing management synergies between the two companies, with the result that in October last year casing collection for Continental was moved to Bandvulc, who are able to handle 2,500 casings per day.
In addition to the retread plant Continental see a number of opportunities provided by the acquisition, particularly with the integration of Bandvulc’s fleet business. Gregg confirmed that the company saw substantial opportunities in aligning and integrating the Conti 360 and BV Plus+ fleet networks, particularly as both networks use the same service providers. The two networks, argued Gregg, are complementary, with Bandvulc being particularly strong in the waste management sector, as well as in logistics, especially with supermarkets, where the company controls 70% of the UK market. The Conti 360 network, on the other hand has particular strengths in refrigeration, fuel and other sectors.
Meanwhile, Continental has now been confirmed as the preferred premium brand being offered by Bandvulc to fleet customers. Bandvulc has also been appointed the exclusive distributor for the Uniroyal mid-range line in the UK and Northern Ireland with effect from the start of 2017, and is also now able to offer a full range of Continental van products.
Continental says it also sees opportunities in other areas, particularly in shared warehousing, the use of Continental bladders in the retread plant, and the potential for offering other Continental Group automotive aftermarket products to Bandvulc fleet customers.