David Wilson, Publisher and Editor at Retreading Business, the publisher for three specialist magazines for the tyre industry, is one of the leading figures in the tyre retreading industry.
Wilson has close to 30 years of experience in journalism in tyre and had founded the business in 1997, in hope to bring more insights to the booming tyre retreading industry worldwide given that majority of the tyre industry magazines cover too broadly with little focus in this specialty. He is also able to provide additional dimension of knowledge and experience in truck tyre retreading which for a number of years now has dominated the sales of retreaded tyres.
A respected thought leader in the domain of tyre retreading, Wilson had helmed the role as Director of the Retread Manufacturers Association, the trade association representing the interests of tyre retreading companies in United Kingdom, for a decade. During his stint with the trade association, he had also spent two years as the Secretary of BIPAVER, the Federation of European Retreading Associations and was concurrently contributing his works as a board member of the United Kingdom’s Tyre Industry Federation.
In this issue of our Tyrexpo Africa Industry News, we are honoured to have Wilson to share his views on the overall outlook of the global commercial tyre retread market as well as addressing the needs for tyre retreading businesses to innovate for sustainable growth.
Q: Could you give us an overall outlook of the South African (SA) commercial tyre retread market? Are there any factors driving or impeding its growth?
“The South African (SA) market is considerably developed with a long tradition of successful activities backed by the support of many local and international leading players in the retreading industry.
“Like all other retread markets around the world, the South African market has been adversely affected by the continuing rise in Chinese tyre imports. This has since led to a change in the dynamics of tyre retreading industry and the future will depend on whether companies can or are willing to adapt to these critical developments that are bound to happen and evolve for survival and growth. “Also, the situation in SA is no different to anywhere else in the world. Hence, it makes more sense to analyse the future of commercial tyre retreading from a global point of view.”
Q: You mentioned earlier about the need for tyre retreading companies to adapt to survive and grow. Can you shed some light on this?
“Historically, retreaders had often marketed their tyres as a budget option as opposed to new tyres. This arrangement worked fine as the price differential between new tyres and retread ones remained wide; it would not do so well if the pricing difference is narrowed. While there are many valid debates in favour of using retreading tyres in view of its economic and environmental benefits, there is a lack of consistency and concerted effort in the way these benefits are being communicated within the industry.
“To ensure the survival and future success of the tyre retreading market, the communities within the tyre ecosystem need to create greater awareness of the benefits to be gained from an approach which takes into account the whole lifecycle of the tyre, including a detailed cost per kilometre analysis which often help determine the viability and effectiveness of retreading for truck fleets.
“Companies would also need to go beyond their traditional solution offering and provide value added service for their customers. For some retreaders this might mean having their own distribution outlets, or introducing a range of fleet management services. For others, it might involve diversifying into products such as tyre and wheel servicing equipment and accessories.
“Retreaders could also explore opportunities in the tyre recycling sector. Furthermore, retreaders can improve the quality of their service to the end user and lifespan of their tyres by bringing their fleet management services into the product presentation by having fleets to manage their tyre pressures, mileage return and overall tyre condition more efficiently.”
Q: With all these challenges and the pressure for companies to innovate, is tyre retreading still a profitable business?
“It is indeed true that the good days have long gone where there is a big market for standard retreaded passenger tyres. There is also a reduced demand for tyres in niche markets, such as winter tyres, 4x4, and off-road vehicles, where unique tread pattern is needed for specific driving uses. Yet retreaded tyres remains popular in some areas of motorsport where tyre requirements are very specific which standard tyres cannot fulfil.
“In my opinion, there will be some further consolidation in the market but I firmly believe that there is still a future for tyre retreading as a profitable business. It is about how best to approach what needs to be done. Retreaders tend to have strong technical expertise in rubber technology and the production of tyres. What they need to improve on is the way they market their products and services in the most effective way.