Bridgestone sees revival in OE segment, replacement market

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on November 10, 2020

Demand in rural parts picking up faster than urban cities, says Consumer Business head Rajarshi Moitra

Bridgestone India is witnessing a steady improvement in demand both in the original equipment (OE) segment and the replacement market with the company’s sale in September this year inching close to 70 per cent of its last year’s sales during same time.

According to Rajarshi Moitra, Executive Officer and Head- Consumer Business, Bridgestone India, while the OE segment has witnessed a pick-up in demand in July, August and September driven by stock building in anticipation of the festival season, the replacement market has been witnessing a traction coming in primarily from the Tier-II and Tier-III towns.

“On the OE side, the industry was facing headwinds since 2018. That business went into a complete shutdown when the lockdown was announced in March. However, over the last three months we have seen some demand revival in the OE business. On the replacement side, April, May, June and July are usually the peak months and the initial demand season got hit (due to the lockdown). But it started picking up slowly and gradually post May. The demand in rural parts started picking up faster than urban cities,” Moitra told BusinessLine.

Bridgestone India has an almost equal share of OE and replacement in its total sales.

Focus on smaller towns

Bridgestone, which has typically been a strong urban brand, has been working on strengthening its presence in the semi urban and rural markets for the past 18-20 months. The focus has been on increasing its distribution footprint in the Tier-II and Tier-III towns and also improving the quality of its retail outlets in these towns.

“We realised that while we are very strong on urban we needed to increase our strength and presence in the Tier II and III towns and this is not something that has happened during the pandemic but we have been working in a structured way through the last 18-20 months. We have increased our distribution presence in these towns and also have been improving the quality of retail outlets. So this (measures) prepared us when the pandemic hit and the rural markets opened up faster,” he said.

The company has over 3,000 outlets nationally and 50 per cent of its distribution is in Tier-II and Tier-III towns. Bridgestone India is also growing its distribution in the semi urban and rural areas on a month-on-month basis.

Higher mobility

“Post the pandemic, we are seeing higher mobility in Tier-II and Tier-III towns as they have opened up faster. Moreover, lack of public mobility infrastructure is driving more people to use their own vehicle,” he pointed out.

The company has been able to consistently gain share in Tier-II and Tier-III towns and has been steadily growing on a quarter on quarter basis for the last five to six quarters. Sale from urban centres contributes nearly 55 per cent to its total business with the remaining 45 per cent coming from semi urban and rural areas.

Bridgestone India has also been taking several initiatives including the launch of “Pick Up and Drop Service” designed to ensure customer safety and allowing them to get tyre maintenance or replacement services without leaving their homes. The service extends to new purchases as well as existing tyres.

It has also introduced contactless servicing solution platform called ‘Bridgestone Bookmyservice’, which enables customers to take an online appointment in a few clicks, making them spend less time in outlets with these pre-planned visits.

Published on November 10, 2020

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