Earmarked for PE, Conti pilot store to open in Joburg

Cindy Preller

THE pilot store for one of the branches of the trade wing of Conti Global Holding, ContiTrade Africa, will soon open in Johannesburg – after originally being earmarked by the company to be launched in Port Elizabeth.

Continental Tyre SA communications manager Gishma Johnson said the pilot store for Best Drive was planned for Port Elizabeth, after which it would have expanded to the other major cities in the country.

"However, this did not happen due to the rezoning delays experienced with the municipality, and the company went to find other opportunities in Johannesburg," Johnson said.

"ContiTrade Africa recently finalised a transaction with Jody's Tyre Group in Johannesburg, acquiring eight tyre fitment stores with existing infrastructure, instead of starting the greenfield project originally planned for Port Elizabeth." Johnson said ContiTrade Africa, whose head office is in Port Elizabeth, would continue to look for investment opportunities in the Bay to broaden the retail and franchise operation's footprint in the city.

ContiTrade Africa trades in terms of two main systems, Best Drive and FIT&GO.

Some of the businesses are company- owned while others are franchise stores. Of theeight stores recently acquired, four will be converted into Best Drive and three into FIT&GO with one store trading by the name Jody's Tyres.

Johnson said Best Drive strived to provide a premium service while the FIT&GO system was value driven and "all about friendly fitment with a straightforward and simple approach".

Best Drive, as a retail concept, is already developed in several countries in Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

ContiTrade Africa chief executive Rolf Lensch said Jody's Tyres staff would retain their jobs and benefit from development and training opportunities offered by the company.

ContiTrade Africa opened its first franchise store in December last year, and will have close to 20 outlets by the end of this year.

"We have been strengthening our distribution network throughout South Africa and are pleased with the overwhelming response from interested business owners in this new concept," Lensch said.

As subsidiaries of German-based Continental AG, ContiTrade Africa will work closely with Continental Tyre South Africa.

The latter will continue to run the ContiPartner loyalty programme as a key distribution channel.