Kwik-Fit Urges Fleets To Make Winter Tyre Bookings For 2011/12 As Corporates Snap Up Stock

Kwik-Fit has sold out of cold weather (winter) car tyres after the UK’s largest independent fast-fit giant had its entire 50,000-strong allocation snapped up by corporate and retail customers.

However, the company still has in stock around 5,000 cold weather tyres for light commercial vehicles.

With more harsh weather expected across the UK over the coming weeks, fleet chiefs that failed to make prompt decisions and order cold weather car tyres before the recent Arctic blitz struck are being urged by Kwik-Fit to make their 2011/12 bookings as soon as possible.

Kwik-Fit Fleet launched its first comprehensive winter tyre programme in September last year and demand for cold weather tyres immediately rocketed in the wake of the snow and ice experienced across the UK in the past two winters with businesses not wanting to be caught out for a third year.

Interest from fleets in cold weather tyres accelerated even further in November and December as snow and freezing temperatures swept across the UK making driving hazardous, particularly on standard tyres.

But, international demand for cold weather tyres coupled with Kwik-Fit being unsure of how many customers would equip vehicles with cold weather tyres and therefore the mix of tyres required means that all car tyre supplies have now run out.

Kwik-Fit Fleet sales director Peter Lambert said: “Demand has significantly exceeded supply this winter particularly on cars. However, whilst we have details of the number and sizes of cold weather tyres we sold, we also know more about customer demand and the range of tyre sizes we could have sold if they were available.

“We would urge fleets that require cold weather tyres for winter 2011/12 to inform us of their requirements as soon as possible to enable orders to be placed with tyre manufacturers. Placing orders with Kwik-Fit Fleet in the first quarter of this year for supply in September or October is not too early.

“Only considering the fitment of cold weather tyres when snow starts falling is too late. Advance planning and order placement by businesses is essential.”

While many fleet chiefs discussed fitting cold weather tyres with Kwik-Fit, Mr Lambert believes that for some the inability to be able to exactly quantify the business benefit coupled with the additional cost meant decisions were delayed until it became too late.

However, customers that made prompt decisions reaped the business benefits with, for example, Jon York, fleet operations manager at British Gas, saying: “Fitting winter tyres to more than 200 vans operating in the Scottish Highlands and the Peak District was definitely the right decision.

“Our engineers were able to get to many customers as planned, which given the driving conditions experienced they probably would not have done had vehicles still been fitted with standard tyres.

“We strive to ensure we can fulfil our customer promise and provide the best possible service and winter tyres have helped achieve those targets.”

Mr Lambert believes that Kwik-Fit could more than double its supply of cold weather tyres for 2011/12 based on sales this winter, particularly with contract hire and leasing companies actively analysing how they can meet client demand.

He explained: “Our contract hire and leasing company customers are looking at how they can offer cold weather tyres to customers as part of their existing monthly contract hire lease rental. Some fleets that operate their company cars and vans on contract are reluctant it seems to spend additional money equipping their vehicles with cold weather tyres.”

Kwik-Fit Fleet offers a ‘hotel’ facility that sees it remove, pack, label and store each company car and van’s standard tyres in its Northamptonshire National Distribution Centre at a per season charge of £40. In the spring, the standard tyres will be returned to each customer’s centre of choice for fitment with the cold weather tyres removed and stored until required again.

Cold weather tyres, which are composed of more rubber and less silicone so they don’t harden so much when it is cold, work best in temperatures under 7˚Celsius. Cold weather tyres have wider grooves which have greater grip in snow and slush and more sideways grooves to give more edges and contact with the road surface.

That translates into shorter braking distances which reduces the risk of a crash: at 20 mph a car or van equipped with cold weather tyres will stop 11 metres sooner on icy roads than if fitted with summer tyres; at 30 mph the braking distance on snowy roads is reduced by eight metres.

Additionally, swapping standard tyres for cold weather tyres designed to perform in the harshest of conditions can reduce fleet operating costs. Depending on vehicle mileage, winter tyres could last for two or even three winters. As, a result wear and tear suffered by standard tyres, which is increased in harsh road conditions, is reduced so postponing their replacement.

Fleet decision-makers can obtain details on the sizes of light commercial vehicle cold weather tyres currently available by calling the dedicated hotline – 0330 123 1567.

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