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Tyre retailer to open first Scottish outlet

AMBITIOUS online tyre retailer Blackcircles has opened its first PitStop fitting service in Scotland.

EXPANDING NORTH: Blackcircles managing director Michael Welch, right, with Scottish franchisee Craig Murray.
EXPANDING NORTH: Blackcircles managing director Michael Welch, right, with Scottish franchisee Craig Murray.

The outlet will be at the Tesco Extra store at the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow.

While orders for tyres are being taken from today, the first fitting will not be carried out until Monday.

It is the fourth of the bays, which allow people to have tyres fitted while they shop, the Scottish business has opened in the past year.

The first was in Milton Keynes in July 2013 with those followed by Bar Hill, Cambridge and Handforth, Cheshire.

Blackcircles, which has its ­headquarters in Peebles in the Borders, where it employs about 50 people, has a long association with Tesco and offers Clubcard loyalty points on some of its purchases.

Sir Terry Leahy, former chief ­executive of the supermarket giant, is a long standing shareholder and adviser to the tyre company.

He joined its board as a non-­executive director earlier this year.

Managing director Mike Welch, who founded Blackcircles in 2001, is excited by the potential of the Silverburn site, which will be run by franchisee Craig Murray.

Mr Welch said: "We continue to work with Tesco to better understand how our PitStop programme can complement their strategic objectives and utilisation of space.

"Our first three sites are doing very well, and customers say they love the service.

"Silverburn is a very exciting development for us because it's second to none in the region in terms of footfall and exposure."

Mr Welch has suggested he can see up to 30 Tesco PitStop sites in the medium term.

Blackcircles, which provides tyres for cars, vans and motorbikes as well as servicing booking, has also been growing its franchise network across the UK.

Customers who select tyres on the e-commerce site can choose which of those franchise garages to have their purchases fitted at.

The independent garages pay Blackcircles a fee once certain volumes are reached with the company also provides branding and support.

Earlier this month the 450th ­franchisee garage was added to the Blackcircles network with Mr Welch aiming to have 1000 by 2017.

It currently has coverage stretching from the north of Scotland to the south of England.

The 35-year-old Mr Welch said: "It's always been my ambition to achieve something similar to Sir Tom Farmer at Kwik-Fit and, all in all, we're not far off where we want to be at this point in time."

Blackcircles has former Kwik-Fit chief financial officer Graeme Bissett as its chairman.

Alongside that Mr Welch said discussions about taking in further investment to accelerate the growth of the business are still continuing.

Options under consideration include a flotation, debt financing or private equity investment.

Mr Welch has previously outlined his intention to invest in marketing, the supply chain and improving its current systems.

He said: "Talks are under way with a range of prospective investors from within the trade and financial markets and we expect to conclude those discussions by the end of [the third quarter]."

In March this year Blackcircles revealed a 20 per cent growth in its turnover for 2013 from £23.2m to £27.8m. Earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation came in at £1m in the year, which was up on the £600,000 the business recorded in 2012.

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