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The Widest Possible Niche

(Clacton, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) The history of Balkrishna Tyres, a company that is probably better known by its initials BKT, began with its incorporation in 1988. The production of off-highway tyres followed in 1995.

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Since its foundation, BKT has made its mark in the niche segments and offers tyres for agricultural, construction, industrial and earthmover applications. Now, with £39 million (Euro 56 million) being invested, the cumulative production capacity at all three of BKT’s plants is set to almost double, from 60,000 to 100,000 tons per annum. Part of this investment will go towards the introduction of a radial earthmover tyre range later this year.

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BKT boasts “the widest niche product range” with more than 1,500 SKUs. Furthermore, the company sees itself as a “one-stop shop” when it comes to OTR tyres. The company’s agriculture range starts at 12 inches bead diameter and goes up to 48 inches. Its industrial/construction/earthmover range starts as small as eight inches, going up to 35 inches bead diameter.

But it doesn’t stop there. The company says it has the capability to develop over 100 new sizes every year coupled with a low turn around time of eight to 10 weeks for new product development.

Following the introduction of its Agrimax brand radial floatation tyres, BKT entered into what it sees as another niche segment. BKT’s radial tractor tyre range is expect to expand from 85 series (launched in 2004) to 70 series, 65 series and finally the 95 series. Not far from Bhiwadi (northern India), where BKT has its second factory, the company is building a third factory for radial agri-tyres as well as large earthmover tyres. According to the company, these developments will double its radial agri-tyre capacity to 250,000 units in 2006.

Investment in research and development has been key to getting BKT where it is today. BKT spends more than US$3 million each year and employees more than 20 staff in its R&D department, something which the company reports was vital to the introduction of Radial Tractor Tyres and the planned introduction of Radial Earthmover tyres later this year.

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BKT has come a long way since 1988. A company that entered as a small player in the International market in 1996, the company is now present in 75 countries worldwide with 95 per cent of its production being exported. The company runs a distribution network in Europe and it is represented by RH Claydon Ltd. in the U.K.

BKT’s geographical proximity to top raw material sources and low cost production in India are the comparative advantages, which help the company remain competitive against the world heavyweight tyre manufacturers. Total warehousing capacity of over 300,000 square metres is said to facilitate prompt shipments of any size from the BKT range.

Currently claiming compounded annual sales growth of 35%-40%, BKT aspires to gain 10% global share by 2010 and emerge as the brightest star in the off-highway tyre galaxy.

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