Selling tires in Japan is a whole different ball game than running a tire dealership in the U.S., though a few trends from North America are beginning to affect the Japanese market.
Since Bridgestone dominates the market with a 51% share of tire sales, the company is able to call a lot of shots, even among independent dealers. In many instances if you want to sell Bridgestone tires, you do so on an exclusive basis.
Closest competitor, according to Kazuhiko Sukegawa, director of consumer tire marketing, is Yokohama with 18% of the market. Sumitomo has about 12%, Toyo 11%, Ohtsu 6% and Michelin 2%.
Of about 7,500 independent tire dealers in Japan, some 6,700 sell Bridgestone tires. Firestone brand tires are also edging into the market as second line tires to compete in price with …