Can you please give us some general information about yourself and how you became a part of the tire industry?
Tires are our family business. My father, Larry Cross, started a business fitting tires in 1980. This grew into Oak Tyres, one of the UK’s biggest tire wholesalers. Ever since I can remember, we have been involved in the business, from the warehouse floor to the boardroom.
From what we understand, Davanti started as a single retail tire shop in 1980 and has now reached the point where it is expanding globally. Can you please explain more about this growth story?
It is a story of hard work and commitment. My father started this as a family business in 1980 and everyone had a role. As time went on he realized that, as other tire fitters came to ask for his help sourcing tires, that there was a need for a wholesale operation to meet the growing demand.
This is what became Oak Tyres. The business enjoyed quick but steady growth to become one of the UK’s largest tire wholesalers. It was about six years ago that we first started to make our ambition to launch our own tire brand a reality however. My brother, Gary, is an engineer and we felt that, by working with the right people, we could design and manufacture our own tire, one which could match or outperform much of the tire market but that was priced reasonably, offering dealers good margins and consumers value for money.
The result was Davanti Tyres and since launching our first product to market we have expanded our presence to around 60 countries globally.
How important is the Middle East market for Davanti Tyres?
The Middle East is very important to Davanti Tyres. It is a thriving market for cars and tyres and drivers here face real issues with imported vehicles bearing unsafe tires or tires that are not GCC compliant and are unsuitable for the conditions. Davanti Tyres are fully GCC certified and offer a safe and affordable alternative to keep the drivers of the Middle East on the road.
Which are the most popular tires that Davanti sells? Do you have tires for commercial vehicles as well as passenger cars?
Our most popular tire is our ultra-high performance DX640. This is a lower profile tire with a sportier pattern designed for high-performance road cars and SUVs.
We also have a light commercial van tire, the DX440, which is very popular among van drivers at a time when more and more van journeys are being made thanks to online shopping.
Davanti announced plans to sell tires in US market in August 2018. How is the Davanti brand doing in this very competitive market?
We did indeed announce plans for that. That is still a work in progress. The US is a complex and competitive market to trade in but it is something we are still working towards.
Whom would you say is the typical customer for Davanti tires in the Middle East region?
The beauty of our range is that we have a tire for everyone. Whether you drive a small city car, a saloon or sedan, a high-performance sports car, SUV, pickup or 4×4, Davanti has a tire for you.
How different is the Middle East market from other key global markets?
What sets the Middle East apart is twofold – sizes and conditions. The nature of the Middle East market is that there is a wide variety of cars and a thriving car culture. The result is a lot of non-standard tire sizes. Davanti’s range of more than 250 fitments can cover most size requests.
The other factor that sets the Middle East region apart is the conditions. The heat is very harsh and if tires are not formulated and stored correctly they can deteriorate rapidly, becoming slippery and dangerous, even perishing or delaminating in some cases. All Davanti tires are designed to meet GCC criteria and are certified for sale so you can be sure that your Davanti tires will perform as well in Dubai as they do in Dublin!
Standards in the Middle East are very strict in terms of date of manufacture and tire labelling standards. How does Davanti tackle these requirements?
We are fully committed to these standards as they come down to one thing – driver safety. As a tire manufacturer we realize that first and foremost we are making safety devices. We are making devices designed to keep you on the road and to stop you safely when required. As I referred to earlier, the harsh conditions in the Middle East require that your standards on this are stricter than most but the result is safer roads for all. We constantly keep ourselves updated on the advice and requirements of the GCC for tire manufacture, storage, age and labelling in order to ensure our tyres can perform to the optimum level whenever they are purchased.
Davanti has entered into a three-year partnership with leading football club, Everton. Are you planning to enter into any such marketing partnerships in the Middle East market?
We are always happy to have conversations with potential partners, but at the moment we have not received any approaches from any potential Middle East partners.
In 2017, Davanti Tyres received the TÜV SÜD accreditation for its DX390 high performance car tire. Has Davanti received any other similar accreditations?
The DX390 has also been certified by IFV for it’s longevity.
Recently, Hungarian automotive website Autonavigator.hu ranked Davanti’s DX390 car tire fifth in its Summer 2019 tire test. How does Davanti ensure tire quality as most of the company’s tires are produced through contract manufacturing?
We work very closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure quality is maintained consistently. Remember, we contract the manufacture of these tyres, they have been designed, engineered and formulated by our research and development team. We meet with our partners regularly, face-to-face, to discuss quality and consistency and to ensure that the highest standards are maintained. The fact that we performed so well in that test shows that our quality controls work.
As a relatively new brand, how important is participating in trade shows? What are the major trade shows in which Davanti participates?
We participate in a number of domestic and international trade shows including Automechanika Dubai, Autopromotec and Latin American and Caribbean Tyre Expo.
What support do you extend to your distributors in terms of training and education?
We offer full sales training, and branding support to our partners, helping bring their sales teams up to speed on our product range and the benefits and delivering professional branding to help them represent Davanti well. Where regulations change and we need to update them, we will send teams out to deliver workshops.
Based on your experience in this market, how important is customer service and what measures have you taken to improve customer service?
Customer service is king and as we have grown we have developed our capabilities there, both in a B2B and B2C way.
B2B we have a UK-based telesales team to handle business there, but that has generated a best practice which we can use to support our distributors globally.
For consumers, the internet and social media is becoming the primary source of customer service enquiries. We have a team managing our channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube ready to respond to any customer queries. It is an aspect of the business that we are always working to improve as we grow.
Can you tell us more about a few marketing initiatives that you have carried out in recent years to increase sales in the short-term and long-term?
Our partnership with Everton has been very helpful in raising our profile and supporting our sales objectives, never more so than during two campaigns we ran with them using top footballers like Jordan Pickford and Theo Walcott in video content to engage with social media.
With Jordan Pickford, we surprised a fan who had raised a lot of money for charity, while Theo was pitted against Andre Gomes, Cenk Tosun and members of Everton Ladies FC in a model truck race.
Both campaigns increased our brand awareness significantly. The challenge is that tires are a distress purchase, so influencing sales in the short-term is almost impossible. Building brand awareness to support dealers when they open conversations about Davanti is the key to growth.
What are the kind of tires that you will be focusing on in the Middle East market?
All our tires are GCC certified and we are able to respond to demand. We expect a greater appetite for Terratoura and the DX640 but in all honesty, if we saw another model in our range begin to spike in demand, we would respond accordingly.
What are the future plans for the Davanti brand, both in the Middle East and globally?
We are currently working on the development of a new ultra-high performance tire, Protoura Sport, which we unveiled at Automechanika Dubai. There is still some work to do in terms of testing to get the performance characteristics right but that will be our next major launch and we expect it to be well received in the Middle East.
If you could sum up Davanti Tyres in just one sentence for our readers, what would that be?
Davanti Tyres is Leading the Way.
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