The online tyres supplier backed by the rich-lister Vidor family’s Toga Group, wealthy Perth heiress Rhonda Wyllie and Melbourne investment banker David Williams is raising $10m to more than double the size of its fleet of service vehicles, as its sales are forecast to hit $100m within two years.
The Mobile Tyre Shop, which operates in all of the nation’s capital cities, allows a customer to order tyres online or over the phone and have them delivered and fitted at their home, place of work or a site of their choice.
Clients include Budget Rent a Car, Europcar and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The company’s founder and CEO Travis Osborne, the former manager of Challenger Financial’s property fund, said Mobile Tyre Shop was looking to put $5m of the current fundraising towards expanding its fleet of service vans from 40 to 100.
The remainder would be spent on marketing and other growth opportunities.
“The original intent was to hold off (on raising funds) and grow naturally. But over the past year we have had a couple of approaches from private equity and industry players,’’ Mr Osborne said, noting a future listing on the Australian sharemarket was an option.
Last year the firm, which Mr Osborne calls the “Webjet of tyres”, raised $5m from its backers that include the Toga Group, Kidder Williams founder David Williams, the Rhonda Wyllie-backed Viburnum Funds group and the Perth-based private wealth firm Merchant Group.
“Mobile Tyre Shop is for people who don’t want to drive to a tyre shop, leave the car for a day, get a cab to and from the workshop and pay top dollar for tyres. It is a disrupter because it saves you time by doing all that at your home, work or even an airport carpark at the lowest cost,” said Mr Williams, who bought into the company in early 2017.
He and Mr Osborne are the sole directors.
The Australian tyre market is worth over $5.4bn annually and the top five brands — Goodyear, Bridgestone, Tyrepower, Bob Jane and Kmart — control more than half of it.
But in addition to Mobile Tyre Shop, consumers can now buy tyres online through companies such as Beaurepaires, JAX Tyres, Bob Jane and new online sites such as tyresales.com.
Last year German automotive e-commerce specialist Delticom claimed the proportion of tyres sold online in Europe would reach 15-20 per cent this year.
One of Europe’s biggest tyre suppliers, ATS Euromaster, is currently running 2600 mobile vans across the continent.
Market research organisation NPD claims online tyre sales grew 34 per cent in the US in 2018, accounting for 21 per cent of all automotive online spending.
“Australia has been very slow to the party because most of the major tyre chains are stuck in their existing brick-and-mortar platforms,” Travis Osborne said.
But other industry executives such as Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres Australia vice-president of retail Scott Wood and Kumho Tyre Australia sales and marketing director David Basha have played down the growth potential of the mobile fitting model.
Mr Basha told online auto site GoAuto late last year that he saw online tyre sales “topping out at around 10 per cent”.
Mr Wood told the same website that he expected mobile tyre-fitting services to remain small-scale in Australia due to the difficulty in offering on-the-spot wheel alignment services. But Mr Osborne said the opportunity for his company was now even greater than it first envisaged given its mobile technicians could replace and balance four tyres in about 45 minutes.
“We are forecasting to hit $100m of sales within the next two years. Surprisingly we operate on a far better margin than a traditional tyre store. We are completely agnostic as far as brands but we are privately funded,” he said.
“I always say that until we have flying cars, we will have a pretty steady market with tyres on cars.
“And with everyone going to SUVs, the tyres on the vehicles are increasingly sophisticated and technical. Our core business is selling good tyres on good cars. We are not at the budget end of the market.”