Cst and bis ready to wager millions on the european market
Three years ago, Cst Tires, through its Italian distributor Bis, made its move into the Italian market with its range of tires for cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles. And now Italy is the Asian brand’s launch pad for other European markets.
Cheng Shing Tires’ quest for global expansion starts right here in Italy. Here is where the Taiwanese manufacturer - present in 180 countries and ranking ninth among the world’s largest manufacturers – established its European base just over three years ago and chose Bis srl, a company based in Cureggio, in the province of Novara, as its distribution partner for its wide range of tires for cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles also on the European market. "This is something that our CEO Giovan Battista Vecchi has pursued for years with great determination", says Massimo Lippi, head of BIS srl car and motorcycle tires sales since 2012.
Bis srl came into existence back in 1985 as a distributor of bicycle components. In 1996 it became Cst’s sole importer for Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The Asian brand, though, made a quick breakthrough in the market , so much so that now "Cst is one of the leading brands in the country as far as bicycles, quads and ATVs are concerned, and is fast becoming a real benchmark also in segments such as scooter and maxi scooter tires," says Lippi. Following these encouraging results, in the early 2000s, Giovan Battista Vecchi began to enquire, time and again, from his Asian partner on the possibility of importing and distributing Cst’s car tires as well. In 2015, the perseverance of Bis srl’s CEO was finally rewarded. "We started off with just a handful of tire models and now our offer includes over 150 products, including several Summer, Winter, All Season products as well as a complete line dedicated to light transport vehicles - says Lippi -. Cst’s tires have proved very attractive for the Italian market, thanks to its high quality and high technological contents at a very competitive price".
Far from being a blind bet, Vecchi’s decision came after twenty years of fruitful collaboration with Cst Tires, and was additionally supported by the growing sales figures recorded by the Asian giant: "Quality has always featured high in Cst Tires list of priorities - explains Massimo Lippi -. It was, in fact, among the first companies in the world to adopt international standards, such as ISO 9001 (EU), ISO 14001 (Japan), TS 16949 (Taiwan), CCC (China) and DOT (USA), in its production plants. Product research and development has always been high up in the company’s agenda: for example, every year Cst invests 3% of its annual turnover, about 50 million dollars, in research and development". Furthermore, Cst production plants make large use of some of the most advanced machines and equipment, and among these, the one that clearly stands out is the new factory built in 2017 in Xiamen (China).
An ever-expanding portfolio
Cst’s next step is to expand its portfolio of products and offer it to the rest of the continent. "At the moment, Cst Tires’ main target in Europe is to work on brand knowledge - says Massimo Lippi -. That is why last year we signed a few important sponsorships agreements with sports teams such as Ajax, a top European football club or the San Antonio Spurs, an NBA basketball team. In addition we established a partnership with the Green Team Bardiani-CSF cycling team besides taking part in several national and international events".
Key milestones on the path to developing brand awareness were also the company’s participation at last year’s Autopromotec event, an international biennial trade show dedicated to the aftermarket sector (Bologna, 24-28 May 2017) and, more recently, to The Tire, an international exhibition dedicated to tires and wheels, held in Cologne (Germany) from May 28th to June 1st, 2018, where Cst was present for the first time. During the German show the Taiwanese manufacturer pulled out all the stops and unveiled, in its over 300 square metres stand, its brand new Winter WCP1 with a V-shaped tread pattern and jigsaw style circumferential grooves created to increase the stiffness of the casing and improve traction in case of snow. Furthermore, thanks to specially designed 3D sipe pattern, the WCP1 delivers superior handling in the most extreme winter conditions. The Wide V-shape lateral grooves improve snow traction and water dispersion thus enhancing grip and manoeuvrability on snow and ice. The new winter tire will be available on the market, in time for the next tire change, in twenty-one different sizes. Subsequently, the Winter WCP1 offer will be expanded to include 18 and 19 inch rims too.
During the German event, Cst displayed also its full range of Summer tires, including its new SUV Adreno AD-R8 and, even more importantly, the new Medallion All Season ACP1 launched at the end of last year. Thanks to its V-shaped lateral grooves and two-wavy longitudinal grooves, it’s able to disperse water easily and provide maximum grip on snow-clad roads. The 3D-sipes enhance stiffness and maintains handling in the presence of snow as well as driving precision when cornering and overall stability while driving. Medallion All Season ACP1 is currently available in twenty-one sizes.
All these innovations will contribute to meet the needs expressed by motorists all over Europe but also, according to Massimo Lippi, to achieve the target set by Cst and Bis for the Italian market, i.e. to gain a 1% share of the market within the next three to five years at the latest. "The car segment is our core business - confirms the company's car and motorcycle sales manager -. Last November, for example, we opened a new 4,000 square metre warehouse entirely dedicated to car tires in Borgomanero, in the province of Novara, a few kilometres from our headquarters".
A special focus on the distribution network
However, having a wide range of quality products may ironically not be enough. "To increase the brand's visibility and presence on the market, we need to work on our distribution channel - explains Lippi -. Our target customers are tire specialists who choose to bet on the Cst brand buying tires in small stocks, as well as medium-sized wholesalers. We have a commercial network able to cover the entire national territory, but we want to go further". Customer retention and increasing our presence on the territory are crucial issues for both Cst Tires and Bis. For this reason we have decided to invest, as previewed during the 2018 event of The Tire, in a new program: the Cst Orange Point. This program, which will be officially launched at the beginning of 2019, aims to attract and affiliate around 200 sales points over a period of two years at the most. "The idea is to link a number of attractive advantages to the Cst brand, identifying direct and indirect promotional levers: promotional material, merchandising, not to mention dedicated promotions, special offers and exclusive services for the customer - illustrates Massimo Lippi -. We are confident this project will prove very attractive for a wide number of Italian retailers, especially in Southern Italy, a market that has always been important for the Cst brand. Our retailers are also our ambassadors to the final consumer - concludes Lippi -. They are responsible for bringing our products to the attention of the final customer, which means that before anything else, they must know and understand the characteristics of our products and the great commercial potential associated with the distribution of this brand".
Finally, one of Cst’s medium-long term objectives, relates to confirming its leading position in the scooter and maxi scooter segments. "Here the brand is already considered a benchmark - says Massimo Lippi, cars and motorbikes tire sales manager -. Cst Tires is currently engaged in fruitful collaborations with some of the sector’s leading manufacturers in developing Original Equipment products".
The range of products for this segment has recently been expanded with the new CM547 Urban Travel, a scooter tire designed to cope with the most diverse road conditions. The new compound, the wider grooves on the tread and the thinner grooves on the shoulders facilitate water drainage, improving traction and grip even in wet conditions. The high land-to-sea ratio rate enhances comfort and reduces rolling resistance. The footprint, well distributed at different angles throughout a corner, promotes safety, and prevents uneven tread wear. The butyl rubber internal structure increases air tightness thus reducing the risk of a sudden pressure loss. The CM547 Urban Travel is available in twelve sizes and is ready to equip most high-end scooters found on the Italian market.