MEXICO CITY—JK Tyre & Industries Ltd., the new owner of Mexico's Compania Hulera Tornel S.A. de C.V., is shooting for sales of $250 million in North America by year-end 2009.
The Indian tire maker plans to begin selling both the JK and Tornel brands in the U.S. and Canada starting next year. The world's 23rd-largest tire maker with 2007 sales of $780 million, JK Tyre bought Mexico City-based Tornel in May for $68 million. It has indicated it will spend millions more to add molds for the JK brand at Tornel's plants and upgrade the facilities' capabilities.
JK plans to launch the Tornel and JK radial passenger and light truck brands to U.S. customers next summer or fall, according to R.P. Singhania, JK vice chairman and managing director. It will sell through selected dealers.
Negotiations with the targeted dealers are under way, but Singhania did not name any possible distributors at this time nor discuss the firm's marketing plans for the launch. Up to now, JK has had little if any presence in the U.S. or Canada and only a limited presence in Mexico, primarily in bias-ply truck tires.
Globally, JK derives only about 15 percent of its annual sales from exports, with about half of that coming from the Middle East and Africa, according to JK financial reports.
JK said it already is adding molds for the JK brand to Tornel's plants for production starting before the end of 2008. It said capital investments will be required to improve quality, efficiency and full capacity utilization but declined to quantify their size.
JK Tyre is part of JK Industries, an Indian company founded in the late 19th century.
The firm ventured into tire making in 1976 with its first plant in Kanroli, Rajasthan, India, moving into tire manufacturing from a role as a supplier of rayon and nylon cord material. It added a second factory, in Mysore, India, in 1980, and in 1991 took over the financially ailing Vikrant Tyre in Banmore, India.
The parent company operates in a variety of businesses, including paper, cement, power transmission belts, dairies, sugar and insurance.