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How Mike Welch pumped up online tyre business with Emap deal

Most of Black Circles’ customers are boy racers, or man racers as I like to call them. That’s a hard demographic to pin down.

The boffins at have worked out that our target audience only buy tyres ten stages down the internet shopping cycle. That’s after they’ve bought a CD, booked a holiday, set up online banking etc. I don’t want to wait that long, so I’ve joined forces with Emap to give them a little nudge.

It’s been six years since I founded the company and is still a relatively unknown brand. Emap’s Max Power and Car magazines are big titles with a circulation of over 140,000 between them, readers that will convert very easily to Black Circles consumers and help take the company to the next level.

It’s a fair exchange. Emap are actively selling to their customers through the internet, converting to a retail model, with zero risk to them. Partnering with Black Circles is a safe bet for them; we’ve been growing at 200 per cent year-on-year and sales reached £7m in 2006.

The business model works like this: we partner with wholesalers and manufacturers to buy in stock as and when it’s needed, and we get it up to 40 per cent cheaper than the high street brands.

There are over 970 franchise outlets across the UK – garages where the tyres are fitted. Customers pick their nearest garage, choose a time, and the job’s done.

The Emap deal saw the launch of a branded online tyre shop earlier this year, “powered by” in the exact style of the magazine’s individual websites. It’s a contra deal, with Emap receiving a small percentage of revenue from the sites. Emap gives its readers the best bang for their buck, and I get access to the one million motoring consumers visiting the websites. The exposure is incalculable.

I expect a minimum 20 per cent increase in sales as a result of the deal. Customers who shop with Black Circles are extremely loyal: 25 per cent of sales each month come from repeat buyers. The average purchase value is around £200 for a couple of tyres, so with all the extra punters coming in, turnover will hit £10m this year.

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