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Federpneus message to all members: focus on re-launching the specialist's role

The future of tire dealers


Faced with an ever-widening yet increasingly less qualified competition and a constant commitment to promote legality, specialist retailers gather to discuss solutions aimed at promoting the sector’s growth. Not forgetting to keep an eye on the international scene.

Guido Gambassi

On September the 12th, the General Assembly of Federpneus’ Members was held at the association’s head office in Anzola dell'Emilia, Bologna. This annual appointment has always been the occasion for associates to discuss the industry’s current trends, and focus on future initiatives. The main topics were as usual included in a report by the association’s President, Guido Schiavon, who reminded to all in attendance that one of the most important and urgent points to deal with is the situation created in Italy after the sector’s liberalization introduced by the Law Decree 201/2011: "The list of minimum equipment required has been abolished. What was the practical result of it? According to the latest estimates from waste disposal consortia, tire operators, who normally numbered around 6,500 (of which roughly about 2,500 are part of official networks), have now become  40,000, as this is now the number of collection points, meaning that they all obviously exercise the activity of tire fitters,” was the comment made by Schiavon. Following the appearance of many new and improvised operators, who lack the skills and tools needed to offer quality service focusing only on low-end products and prices and, at times, operating at the limits of legality in order to guarantee unrealistically low prices, a progressive deskilling of the profession has taken place degrading the value of the profession.  "At one time, associations such as ours were not committed to tackling the phenomenon of lawlessness, but we are now called upon to do so - says Schiavon. VAT fraud and evasion  or failure to pay the ecological contribution endangers the whole category  since profit margins for law abiding companies are already almost non-existent.” For this reason, the Association’s membership to the Table of Legality, with the creation of a platform called “Cambio Pulito” aimed at promoting the anonymous reporting of illicit behaviours is a key element of the Association’s current activities.  Similarly important is the synergy with Assogomma which, in addition to the “Pneumatici Sotto Controllo” campaign (Tires Under Control) and the various joint events during Autopromotec, is leading the whole category to great results in terms of visibility. Finally, a number of future activities leading to a further strengthening of Federpneus’ role in the field of vocational training are currently being developed. "The goal is to make sure that specialized dealers go back to being recognized as full-fledged tire professionals. Time is on our side: as cars become increasingly autonomous, one wrongly calibrated sensor will be enough to give out a maintenance alert signal or even crash the whole system. Of course, when that happens, the tire specialist will have to rise up to the challenge,” concluded Schiavon.

Furthermore, the assembly provided also the opportunity to present a volume published by EGAF "Vehicle tires. A Practical Guide and a Technical and Regulatory Detailed Study ,” the preface of which was provided by Federpneus, and that will be distributed free of charge to all associated companies through a collaboration with Autopromotec. The publication, produced by one of the most important publishing houses in the field of automotive regulatory guides, includes the main legal requirements as far as tires are concerned, and is an important and useful tool for dealing with many of the questions that customers ask on a daily basis, and is also often used by law enforcement agencies in charge of tire inspections. In the rather complex world of tire assistance, the specialist must be able to know each law that applies to his or her sector, in order to provide the right service for the client also in view of the increasingly important responsibilities (starting from road safety ) that weigh upon the entire category.

In the end, as we often end up talking about the impact that Asian tires are having on our market, Corrado Bergagna, President of Assoruote and an expert in Chinese industrial frameworks and production dynamics, closed the proceedings with an in-depth report on  China’s industry. Some aspects of the report were rather important: in addition to the fact that 21 out of the top 50 tire manufacturers are Chinese, the Asian giant can also boast 200 tire factories (100 of which produce also truck tires), that supply products for over 1,000 brands, with a tremendous outsourcing phenomenon. However, as a rule of thumbs we can say that producers can be divided into two main categories: large industrial corporations with well-structured sales channels on European markets their brands and their marketing policies, and factories designed to fill large volumes of containers. In this context, important developments have also been made in recent months due to the adoption of new environmental policies that have subjected all production facilities to increasingly stringent controls. The result was the closure of many factories, with a 30-40% reduction in production volumes and a 50% reduction for carbon black. This will obviously have the double consequence of forcing a sharp rise in prices and a similarly significant reduction in exports, as China cannot leave its enormous domestic demand outstanding. A complex scenario indeed, one that will be subject to rapid changes, which must be closely followed, always with the aim of supporting all associated companies in their daily business.

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