Since its formation in the aftermath of communism in Russia, Amtel has had its eye on greater things. Once a collection of low-tech, Soviet-era tire factories, bought up by founder and India native Sudhir Gupta, Amtel has invested heavily in moderizing its plants and improving its tire technology.
Steady growth gave the company the capital to make a bold move, which it completed in April with the acquisition of Dutch tiremaker Vredestein Banden. Now, it has unleased that top-shelf tire brand on the Russian market.
The now renamed Amtel-Vredestein unveiled the brand to the local market during a special media event at the Moscow International House of Music. More than 100 Russian journalists, as well as tire media from around the globe, attended the launch, which included an elaborate cocktail party, themed “Black Luxury,” and presentations by Amtel-Vredestein CEO Alexi Gurin and Vredestein general manager Robert Oudshoorn.
Not only did Amtel gain a premium brand for its home market, Vredestein gained production capacity to help its efforts in Europe and North America.
Amtel-Vredestein has begun production of Vredestein UHP tires at its Amtel-Povolzhye Tyre Complex in Kirov and plans to add the brand in 2007 at its Amtel-Chernozemye Tyre Complex in Voronezh, which is currently undergoing a major expansion. Vredestein’s Ultrac, Sportrac 2, Wintrac Xtreme and Wintrac 4 Xtreme lines all developed with the assistance of Giugiaro Design will be produced and sold in Russia.
“For the first time, a full line of premium-class tire production will be realized at Russian production facilities,” said Gurin. “The technology and specification of the tires will be fully in line with the original European design.” The company, he said, “is entering the premium-class segment of the Russian tyre market because it is highly profitable and the fastest-growing market segment in the near term.
“The launch of Vredestein tires in Russia and their production at Amtel’s Russian facilities is the beginning of the synergetic effect resulting from our acquisition” of Vredestein, said Gurin. “In addition, we plan to apply the latest tire production technologies at our Russian facilities, as well as the management expertise of our Dutch colleagues and Vredestein’s wide international distribution network.”
As part of its Vredestein launch and marketing efforts, Amtel-Vredestein purchased a massive, 125-meter-long billboard near Red Square. And, the brand had a prominent and well visited booth at the Moscow Motor Show, held that same week. In the booth, Vredestein featured a Giugiaro-designed Aston Martin “20/20” concept car.
“Our strategy has been to introduce many new products, in ever higher market segments,” Oudshoorn said of Vredestein’s recent history. “Our shareholders allowed us huge investments to buy the equipment for the ultra-high performance tyres we wanted to manufacture. They have never been disappointed.”
Calling Amtel’s acquisition an important step for Vredestein, Oudshoorn said both parties want to move quickly. “Just to show the world that we mean business, Amtel and Vredestein agreed to start immediately with a number of important projects, such as the manufacturing of Vredestein tyres in Russia and establishing a grand marketing, sales and production plan for all plants involved.”
Calling it a true win-win, Oudshoorn said Amtel’s involvement was “good for Vredestein, as we needed better access to Eastern Europe and to low-cost production for the lower segments, and good for Amtel to get access to the European market, to excellent tyre technology and to production know-how,” he said.
“And, I am proud to say that, despite language and cultural differences, both Russian and Dutch employees carry out those projects with great enthusiasm and determination.”