This will be exclusively distributed across the U.K. by wholesaler BITS. Roadstone has been available in the Republic of Ireland through Phillip White tyres since November.
The news that Nexen’s Roadstone brand was coming to the U.K. follows that company’s decision to open a London office at the end of 2005. Tyres & Accessories interviewed Nexen managing director David Sul, Frankfurt office manager Anthony Han and new London office manager Bong Lee at BITS’ head office in Bristol.
Nexen’s decision to open a London office is part of a wider international expansion plan. Chinese and Japanese offices are next on the list in 2006, with Panama, France and Italy branches following in 2007.
The company already holds product certification for its tyres in China and Brazil, neither of which are easy to come by. However, both of these are indications of how far developed Nexen’s plans to open offices in Panama and China are. Nexen’s Korean headquarters aside, the company currently runs branches in Australia, UAE, the U.S. and Germany. The company’s London and New York offices are offshoots of its German and U.S. offices, respectively.
Managing director Sul explained that Nexen opened it London office so it could give a “faster reaction” to its customers. He also emphasises the fact they were not interested that the company is not interested in coming here and dictating how the business should be run, but rather it wants to establish working relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
According Sul, while the Nexen has two different names for its products (Nexen and Roadstone) there is no difference in quality. The company just thought it was very important to keep to its one brand per capable dealer strategy. The only difference between the two brands is that Nexen is available in both OE and replacement market and Roadstone is only available in the replacement market.
He explained that the company opted for the approach so as to give the exclusive dealers more responsibility for marketing the products in whichever way they see fit. This flexibility even extends to cold weather products. “If U.K. customers want winter tyres we will include them,” said Sul.
Nexen plans to introduce two or three asymmetrically designed patterns across the EU by the end of the year. It is not clear if they will be available in both the Roadstone and Nexen brands or not. “Nexen just tries to give the better choice,” Sul explained.
Nexen’s current production capacity is approximately 15 million radial tyres, roughly 75% of which is destined for export. One of the company’s strategy for increasing is these figures is to develop its market share through OE pull-through. The company has tested its OE product specification with MIRA and the German TUV.
Currently the company provides OE tyres for GM Daewoo’s Rezzo, Lacetti, Matiz, Gentra and Tosca cars; Hyundai’s Verna, Santafe and Starex cars, Libero, Porter II and Mighty vans, and Country bus; and also Ssangyong Motor’s Rexton, Musso Sports, Rodius, Kyron and Actyon. In addition Nexen provides OE fitment for Kia’s Morning compact car.
While the below list of OE fitments may make it sound like Nexen has limited itself to local manufacturers, the word on the street is that the company is also negotiating OE contracts with a leading European volume car manufacturer.