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Election Time

May 18th, 2012

As I approach the end of my time as President of ITMA, I look back with some pride about the many achievements we have made as an association during the last two years.

Today, we are operating in a very different environment from that of only a couple of years ago. As the tough economic situation continues, we have seen a significant shift in patterns of demand and consumer behaviour. Already slender margins have been squeezed even further throughout the supply chain, and with more than 300 tyre brands competing throughout Europe, the market is arguable more fiercely contested than ever before.

Aside from the extended economic pressures, we have also seen a raft of new technical and environmental legislations. While these have been developed for a number of laudable reasons such as improving consumer choice or raising environmental standards, they none the less can act as a significant barrier to entry for importers looking to sell their products within Europe and raise the cost and complexity of doing business in the region.

However, I believe that such changes in the competitive landscape emphasise the need for manufacturers to be part of an effective trade association that works tirelessly on their behalf, giving them every opportunity to compete effectively and on a level playing field.

Thankfully, I’m pleased to say that ITMA does precisely this and has coped extremely well with the industry’s evolution in recent years. I believe we’re in an incredibly healthy position and very well equipped to offer significant levels of support and guidance to non-European tyre manufacturers well into the future.

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this is that ITMA has not been forced to reinvent itself to cope with any changes. We have stuck with our core principles of effectively representing the best interests of imported tyre brands. Our aim remains to deliver a number of focused tangible benefits from a low cost base so that members maximise their return on investment and can operate effectively within the region.

Indeed, during my tenure we have seen a significant growth in the number of tyre manufacturers and importers who are members of the association, and we now have a very healthy membership of 16 companies.

Our technical committee, which was in its infancy at the start of my term, has perhaps been one of the biggest successes of the association in the last couple of years. It has become a cornerstone of ITMA, elevating the association into a highly-effective multi-faceted trade organisation rather than one focused purely on business and commercial aspects.

The technical committee meets on a quarterly basis to discuss impending technical changes affecting the industry. This early notice of developments allows members to communicate their changing requirements back to their respective factories in a timely and effective manner. Meetings are always well attended with fantastic levels of input and contribution from all members, illustrating the real value of membership.

ITMA’s participation with other groups also continues to benefit its members widely. As a founder member of the Tyre Industry Federation (TIF), ITMA retains three seats on the board, giving it a significant share of voice and access to highly important bodies such as the Department for Transport and other Government departments. Feedback from industry discussions with these organisations can then be fed back to ITMA’s members in a fast and effective manner, ensuring they remain up to date with the very latest regulations.

And it’s not just in the UK that ITMA’s member’s benefit. Reflecting its more European outlook, last year the association became a member of the Scandinavian Tire and Rim Organisation, giving even greater access to technical information. ITMA is continuing to pursue this strategy of European integration and the association is continuing to increase its reach into Europe so it talks more regularly and directly with other European associations and legislators.

As I step aside from the role of President, I would like to wish my successor the very best success for the future. There is no doubt that we will continue to experience further changes and complexity within the wider industry. We are likely to see even more legislative and regulatory enforcements, however, for a forward looking association such as ITMA, it is important that we continue to view these as opportunities to deliver real benefits for our existing and prospective members. We will undoubtedly need to continue along the path of evolution to ensure the association can rise to meet these future challenges and I am confident we are well placed to achieve this next exciting step.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my ITMA colleagues for their support, input and contributions during my time at the helm and I will of course continue to work closely alongside them in my member’s role through Yokohama.