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09 Sep 10 21:46
B-Quik to Enter Niche Tire Market and Indo China
Bangkok Post
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In front of a bright yellow and carbon black B-Quik auto service center in central Bangkok Khun Busararat dressed in the corporate uniform yellow - black poloshirt explains:
"We have lofty ambitions. If we had intended to operate only in Thailand, we could have done so on our own. But the idea behind our partnership with the giant Japanese trading house Marubeni was to have solid financial backing for international expansion," explains Ms Busararat.

B-Quik the Kingdom's largest independent passenger car service chain expects to gross close to THB 2.6 billion this year.

Busararat Assaratanakul, the chief operating officer, said the company planned to penetrate the high-performance tire market for supercars and premium high-performance passenger cars.

Today the primary clientele consists of pick-up truck and passenger car owners who change their tyres at any of the 65 B-Quik centers nationwide, but there is demand from the Phatthanakan and Sathorn outlets for larger and more unique tyre specs, Busararat said.

"Many Ferrari and Porsche cars come to B-Quik for normal tire alignment. We don't have the equipment, products to accommodate these high-end performance cars because this market is something new for us", said Ms Busararat.

She elaborated that B-Quik can procure sports car tire sizes within three days and that the Phatthanakan and Sathorn branches will serve as a pilot project for this new market.

B-Quik, a venture formed via a management buyout by CEO Henk Kiks and Ms Busararat with financial backing from Japanese partner Marubeni, boasts 40,000 customers a month or almost 480,000 cars per year. Ford Motor Co was the previous owner.

Bridgestone's service center chain, under the ACT and Cockpit brands, is larger than B-Quik in terms of network size but the latter records higher sales and is bigger in network coverage based on its unique independent status.

Meanwhile, B-Quik is considering major expansion plans in regional South East Asian markets such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, said Ms Busararat.

"B-Quik is interested in Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, based on the car population and market demographics. But commercial laws are currently a barrier to our entry into the Vietnamese market because after opening our first outlet, a second one would need government approval."

B-Quik already has plans to open two outlets in Phnom Penh next year, expanding to five soon thereafter.

"Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Phnom Penh are two entirely different markets based on market demographics. Saigon's traffic is similar to Bangkok's, but the market size is about the same as Chiang Mai's," said Ms Busararat.

"In investing abroad, our primary objective is never to open only one outlet. Metro [Vietnam's equivalent to Tesco-Lotus hypermarkets] is the only company with more than one outlet, and that's due to good business relations."

B-Quik has already initiated negotiations with Metro, but the final say will be based on future changes in commercial law by the Vietnamese government, she explained.

B-Quik outlets cost 12-15 million THB to open, inclusive of imported equipment, construction fees and merchandise inventory.

"We have high ambitions. If we had intended to operate only in Thailand, we could have done so on our own. But the idea behind our partnership with Marubeni was to have solid financial backing for international expansion. We joined with Marubeni because we want to reach our goals, or else we could not have reached this point," said Ms Busararat.

B-Quik claims a 20 percent market share in Bangkok and 5 percent in the provinces , which Ms Busararat said averages out to about a 10 percent market share overall.

The company enjoys annual growth of 16-17 percent and expects to open seven more outlets nationwide by the end of 2010 - at Tesco Lotus Krabi, Tesco Lotus Kalaprapruek, Tesco Lotus Sukhaphiban 3, Big C Chachoengsao, Robinson Trang, King Kaew Road in Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) province.
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