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Optimism Returning to the Market

“It was fantastic to see optimism returning to the agricultural tyre market in 2007. Despite all the problems that farmers faced last year, the better wheat and milk prices seem to have steadied the ship,” comments Barry Coleman, Firestone’s marketing manager.

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According to Coleman the U.K. agricultural tyre market looks like it has turned a corner compared with the broader trend seen in recent years. “Over the past few years the market demand has been in steady decline, but in 2007 demand was about the same as the previous year. However, the market is changing with sales of the traditional standard 85 series tyres diminishing as sales of specialist agricultural tyres grow.”

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“Firestone has a continuous stream of new products to meet these specialist demands. In November we launched Maxi Traction, a range of large tyres designed specifically for high horse power tractors,” Coleman continued, adding: “Maxi Traction is designed to operate at 2.4 bar which means the load carried is significantly higher than a normal tyre can carry. The main original equipment tractor manufacturers have already started to fit Maxi Traction as standard fitment to new machines.”

“The next major new product is Duraforce Utility. This tyre is designed for small wheeled loaders and telescopic handlers working mainly on hard abrasive surfaces. Our initial evaluation tests look very promising with very complimentary comments coming from the farmers,” claims Coleman.

“The wear life also seems to set new standards, so we have very high hopes for this new product, which is available in January 2008.” The size range will include 400/70R20, 405/70R18, 335/80R20 and 365/80R20 at the launch.

Sales exceed expectations as market share reaches around 20%.

“Firestone’s sales in 2007 exceeded our highest expectations. Bridgestone UK’s agricultural radial market share was around 20 per cent last year making Firestone one of the leading brands,” said Coleman, explaining: “Dealers tell me this is because we have made the Firestone tractor tyre the most profitable he can sell. Couple this with a strong brand image and good OE fitments and we have a winning combination.”

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“The company’s founder, Harvey Firestone was a farmer, and identified a need for a better solution than the metal lugged wheels fitted to tractors up to the 1930s. As a result he invented the agricultural pneumatic tyre and revolutionised the effectiveness of the farm tractor.’ Coleman concludes, “Today, Firestone’s aim is to continue to be at the cutting edge of farm tyre technology, and give both tyre dealers and farmers unmatched value.” (Tyres & Accessories/Staffordshire, U.K.)

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