AKRON (Feb. 1, 2008) — Continental Tire North America Inc. returned to the black for the first time in 10 years after getting costs under control last year and reporting sales gains across the board.
Conti did not disclose exact sales or earnings figures, but CEO Matthias Schonberg said management is confident the company can at least repeat this performance in 2008, both in North America and throughout the Americas. Conti's tire sales in North America were estimated at $1.9 billion in 2006.
The major change in turning the corner was getting the passenger/light truck tire business operating profitably, Schonberg said, which the firm accomplished in part by rejuvenating the product line, starting with the General Tire brand in the U.S. and the Euzkadi brand in Mexico, and achieving better pricing levels.
Continental spent about $100 million over the past three years on product development, according to Andreas Gerstenberger, executive vice president, sales and marketing.
Schonberg and Gerstenberger also pointed to the firm's restructuring moves of the past few years — consolidating U.S. tire production at the non-union Mount Vernon, Ill., plant, phasing out private brands, selling the off-the-road tire business, reducing SKU complexity, etc. — as playing a part in getting the firm's costs down.