Groupe Michelin has acquired a 40-percent stake in Allopneus SAS, a French Internet tire retailer, for 60 million Euros.
Michelin's investment comes four months after Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. announced it would sell tires directly to consumers on goodyear.com. Goodyear is in the midst of rolling out its online system.
Based at Aix-en-Provence, Michelin says Allopneus sold some 3 million tires in France in 2014, and is seeing growth, and today accounts for 7 percent of the French market. Run by Didier Blaise, its founder, the Allopneus Group employs more than 200 people.
According to Michelin, one in two motorists intending to buy new tires seeks detailed information in the weeks preceding the purchase. In France, three out of four consumers seek this information online and currently 13 percent of them will make their actual purchase online.
"Through this shareholding, Allopneus, which has been able to transform a consumer trend into a solid business model, will be able to accelerate its growth by benefiting from the strength of the Michelin Group and the expansion of its offering, in particular thanks to the Euromaster distribution network, a Michelin subsidiary," said Didier Blaise.
By building a partnership with Allopneus, Michelin will expand its online range and extend its commercial presence. Michelin will become more adept at dealing with the different modes of online and offline searches and purchases, thereby pursuing its strategy to improve the services offered to customers.
The minority shareholding of Allopneus is consistent with the strategic line pursued by Jean-Dominique Senard, Groupe Michelin CEO and general partner.
"Getting Michelin to grow means understanding our markets in detail, so as to anticipate and satisfy the needs of our customers," Senard said. "This alliance between two pragmatic companies manifests our desire to satisfy motorists to whom we are able to offer a simplified and financially-advantageous path from searching for information on the Internet through to getting their tires fitted by professionals."