Tyre firm Bandvulc on road to strong sales recovery after £1m investment
(This article first appeared on Business Live – here) Plymouth factory is receiving major investment from owner Continental and expects full bounce back from Covid dip
Multinational autoparts giant Continental Group is investing more than £1million into the Bandvulc Tyres Ltd plant it owns in Plymouth as it predicts a strong sales recovery now lockdown is easing.
The Lee Mill-based factory mainly sells recycled and retreaded tyres for commercial trucks and lorries, serving about a third of the UK’s supermarket fleets, and while it suffered a 10% dip in trade during the Covid year, partly due to “non-essential” retail being shut, it is seeing sales pick up strongly.
The growth in supermarket sales and e-commerce, and a booming construction sector, are seen as drivers for demand in recycled and retreaded tyres.
This optimism is born out by Continental, which acquired Bandvulc from the founding O’Connell family in 2017, continuing to invest in the Plymouth operation.
“Since the acquisition by Continental there has been a lot of investment in plant this year, spending more than £1million on new equipment and processes,” said Tony Mailing, operations directors at Bandvulc, “Continental is investing in this business which is great for the local economy and employees.”
During the pandemic the company continued to service regional and national fleets and that while sales were hit during the initial 2020 lockdowns demand soon rebounded to the extent that during the last three months of 2020 the company sold more tyres than it did in the same period in 2019.
Directors at Bandvulc, which also has a 24/7 breakdown service and tyre management division, called 2020 “challenging” but said the company was nonetheless “resilient” and it anticipates remaining profitable in 2021.
Mr Mailing said: “Through 2020 we saw a drop of about 10% on a normal year but we are lucky because we are very much supplying the supermarket industry, so through the Covid year we kept going.
“Home deliveries have gone through the roof, that has been of some assistance for us. But the 10% dip was because some retail was closed.
“About 60% of our business is related to supermarkets, and it has grown as they have grown. The construction industry is booming, and that is a big market for us, building materials and removal of anything from site, these are strong markets for our products.”
In addition, Bandvulc is finding its position has been strengthened by Brexit trade issues which have hiked the price of imports, and Europe lagging behind the UK in Covid vaccine roll-out.
“As a UK manufacturer, with the changes from Brexit it has made importing more expensive,” said Mr Mailing. “With Covid issues in Europe, where a lot of tyre manufacturing plants have been hit by absenteeism, that has affected the inflow of tyres into the UK. Nearly all of our production is to the domestic market, more than 90%.
Mr Mailing added: “The second half of last year, when we came out of lockdown was extremely busy for us and the forecasting looks like that will continue.”
He said that the prediction is that if the UK fully unlocks, as planned, in June the firm will be busy and ready for a “full bounce back.”
“The expectation is we will continue growing,” Mr Mailing said. “We had a 10% dip but it is growth year-on-year and the expectation is that will continue.”