South Africa’s first tyre manufacturer celebrates an incredible 130 years in the business…
In 1896, eight years after John Boyd Dunlop was granted the first patent to develop the rubber tyre in 1888, Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company sent Malcolm Irving to set up shop in South Africa. The depot, which was headquartered in Cape Town, was the country’s first tyre-distribution centre. A Johannesburg-based depot, which is believed to be the first local tyre retreading and repair workshop, followed six years later. To aid with national distribution, the firm introduced another branch in Durban where, in 1935, Dunlop pioneered a first-of-its-kind tyre factory in South Africa. Here, the first locally produced tyre came out of the mould: a beaded edge car tyre, size 30inch x 3½.
After relocating its head office to Durban, now trading under a new name, Dunlop South Africa Limited forged ahead, becoming the first to manufacture car and truck steel radials, and aeroplane tyres. For its industrious work, the company was awarded the E Mark, Europe’s highest symbol of quality, in 1986.
By the early 1970s, South Africa’s demand for tyres had grown rapidly. To keep pace with national requirements, on 12 October ’73, Dunlop opened a new factory near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal. The plant, which was one of the most modern facilities in the world, was specially built with a focus on car tyres.
In 2014, Dunlop announced the first phase of a multi-million rand investment to upgrade the Ladysmith facility to increase its manufacturing output of high-quality rubber for passenger cars and SUVs. The company remained committed to the local economic growth of the province and country, and in 2016 the firm implemented phase two, upping its investment to R2,1 billion.
Complete tyre confidence is easy when the tyres hitting the tar – or rugged terrain – are from the iconic Dunlop range, backed with a legacy of 130 years and voted #1 Consumer Tyre Brand in the 2018/2019 Ask Afrika Icon Brands Survey for the sixth time since 2011 in South Africa. Whether you are heading out on a school run, hitting the highway or adventuring off-road, the innovative Dunlop Grandtrek range rises to meet the challenge from freeway to free spirit.
Dunlop has once again added to its list of accolades by winning the tyres category in the 2018/2019 Ask Afrika Icon Brands Survey, making it the company’s sixth win since 2011 and attesting to South African consumers’ loyal support of this iconic international tyre brand.
But the awards did not stop there. In addition, Dunlop’s parent company, Sumitomo Rubber SA (SRSA), was recognised for its business excellence in the categories of Investor of the Year and Enterprise Development Programme of the Year at the fifth annual South African Premier Business Awards.
For decades, the iconic Dunlop brand, with its rich global history in motorsport, has given racing drivers the ultimate experience through its involvement in motorsport genres, from Formula One, Ausie V8 Supercars, European Le Mans 24 Hours, Moto 2 and Moto 3 (bikes).
In South Africa, Dunlop is known for its active involvement in motorsport and motorcycle events, and now premium brand Falken has come onboard as title sponsor in the motorsport industry. As official tyre sponsors, Dunlop and Falken tyres are dominating the racing circuits with its high performance, stability and grip, giving both driver and motorsport enthusiasts a racing thrill like no other.
Dunlop is committed to developing high-quality products with an emphasis on customer safety and comfort. With its #SaferThanSafe campaign, Dunlop creates awareness about safety, not only on our roads but during the manufacturing process as well, ensuring that its manufacturing processes adhere to global standards. During production, not one detail is overlooked: where the raw materials are sourced and how it is transported to the plant, right up to the disposal of waste materials.
“As a responsible tyre manufacturer, we cannot neglect our duty of helping to ensure safety on African roads,” says Riaz Haffajee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa.
As the company exports its products to 43 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, all tyres are developed with the continent’s condition in mind.
“All Sumitomo Rubber South Africa tyre products are technologically advanced and are developed specifically for local conditions,” says Lubin Ozoux, director of group sales, marketing and operations.
500 STORES ACROSS AFRICA … AND GROWING!
Following its significant investment into the local economy, the Dunlop brand continues to expand. With its dealer network now stretching across the continent, the company continues to enjoy a substantial amount of growth.
To improve on its already stellar customer experience, Dunlop Accredited dealerships were rebranded to Dunlop Zones: modern, performance-driven stores, of which there are now 185 units in Africa. Two additional branches, Dunlop Express and Dunlop Commercial, were opened to further increase the distribution network. Dunlop Express provides tyre fitment and servicing in more than 160 workshops in Africa, while the commercial arm provides for the truck and bus segment, offering radials for these large vehicles.
Dunlop realised it could play a significant role in finding a solution to South Africa’s unemployment crisis and launched the Dunlop Container initiative. This programme aims to provide opportunities for unemployed youth, women and aspiring business owners in informal settlements to be trained and mentored in tyre sales and repair. There are over 100 Dunlop-branded containers in South Africa.