Cologne: 09.–11.06.2026 #thetirecologne

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An Interview with Stephan Helm from BRV

”The tyre market is undergoing a transformation”

The global tyre market is undergoing dynamic change. Topics such as sustainability, e-mobility and the recruitment of skilled labour are becoming increasingly important. We talk to Stephan Helm, Chairman of the Board of the BRV Bundesverband Reifenhandel und Vulkaniseur-Handwerk e.V., about current developments in the industry and opportunities for the future.

Stephan Helm is Chairman of the Board of the BRV Bundesverband Reifenhandel und Vulkaniseur-Handwerk e.V. © Koelnmesse GmbH

Stephan Helm © Koelnmesse GmbH

New requirements for the industry

Mr Helm, what current developments are you currently observing in the tyre market in Germany and internationally?

The economic outlook in Germany was gloomy in the winter half-year 2023/2024 and the recessionary phase continued in 2024. GDP fell in 2023 and will only rise slightly in 2024, if at all. The geopolitical situation remains tense and unpredictable. Prices for rubber raw materials are moving sideways at a high level. There are high risks for the global economy due to geopolitical conflicts. Sustainability aspects are increasingly determining research and development for tyres. Emission standards for new vehicles require optimised original equipment tyres and will be a focus in the coming years, as will tyre wear. The global tyre market is also in a phase of dynamic transformation, with new requirements for sustainability and efficiency as well as increasing digitalisation. The global increase in vehicle production with a growing proportion of e-cars and competition between international tyre manufacturers are driving the market forward.

Responsibility for producers

There are increasing legal requirements for sustainability in the product life cycle. Where do you see the greatest opportunities and challenges for the tyre industry?

As dealers, we only move a small proportion of the product and, in my opinion, are more responsible for the service offering. The professional tyre retailer returns the new product to the consumer and the casing either to a retreader or a certified disposal company.
The question is about the primary responsibility of the manufacturer, who must provide appropriate answers. My personal assessment is that the manufacturers do not yet fully fulfil their responsibility.

The global tyre market is changing (Image: Koelnmesse GmbH)

The global tyre market is in a phase of dynamic transformation with new requirements. © Koelnmesse GmbH

Introduction of the TPMS obligation

How do you rate the TPMS obligation for commercial vehicles, which comes into force for new registrations from this June?

The BRV has ‘mixed feelings’ about the introduction of mandatory TPMS for commercial vehicles. There are still concerns regarding the expected problems of TPMS handling, particularly in the event of a breakdown, and the corresponding effects on tyre and breakdown service.
The BRV is planning to inform commercial vehicle service providers about the issue and to sensitise them to the possible effects on their customers. An information event on TPMS for commercial vehicles will be organised as part of THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024 to inform service providers and prepare them for the new situation.

Service optimisation in the tyre trade

As in other sectors, there is an increasing shortage of skilled workers in the tyre trade. How do you deal with this situation in your own business and what advice would you give to other companies?

The tyre trade has long since become more of a service company than a dealer and is continuing to move in this direction. Accordingly, the problem is not only becoming more acute in terms of the availability of qualified personnel. The increasing demand for services is also fuelling the problem.
We are essentially moving three levers: increasing the number of trainees, improving the quality of training (during and after training) and improving remuneration in order to survive in direct competition with other trades. All three levers require a significant increase in service prices. This is the only way we can realise the necessary income to improve our offering. Fortunately, market prices have been showing a clearly positive trend for some years now. The tyre trade seems to have understood that we need to market our services better.

BRV Training Award 2024 (Image: Bundesverband Reifenhandel und Vulkaniseur-Handwerk e.V.)

The BRV supports the recruitment of young talent with the presentation of the BRV Training Award. © Bundesverband Reifenhandel und Vulkaniseur-Handwerk e.V.

Future challenges

What other challenges do you see for the tyre trade in the near future?

The topic of personnel is and will remain a perennial issue. The industry is focussing on recruiting young talent. For example, a major cooperation recently launched a remarkable trainee campaign. The BRV is flanking these measures with the presentation of the BRV Training Awards.
Digitalisation is another important trend topic when it comes to personnel. How will we manage to offer the same services in future with the same number of staff or possibly even slightly fewer? This applies equally to the association and its members. There is no way around the automation of processes here.
The third topic is sustainability, which is increasingly coming to the fore. Not only in tyre production, but also in professional disposal will become an ever greater focus. For the many members who have successfully integrated vehicle servicing into their offering, the increasing technical complexity of vehicles and the interfaces to the manufacturer's systems represent a further challenge.

North Entrance of THE TIRE COLOGNE (Image: Koelnmesse GmbH)

At THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024, the BRV stand at the North Entrance will offer a varied programme. © Koelnmesse GmbH

Programme at the trade fair

The BRV will have its own stand at THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024. What will you be presenting there?

The BRV stand directly at the North Entrance with stand number B-002 serves as a meeting point for the industry to exchange information about our services and offers.

It is essential for the BRV to be visible for the tyre trade. That is why we are focussing on the presentation of the association's range of services. And not only to potential new members, but also to existing members who are not (yet) aware of this diversity.
The stand not only offers the opportunity to make contact with the BRV team, but also with some of the BRV's partners. Awaiting you at the stand are: lawyer Frank Döring from the law firm JEP, who advises BRV members on legal matters; Enrico Göpfert and Christian Junker from the Erfurt Chamber of Crafts, who support our industry with the new training centre in matters of training; Stephan Surmont from EBTS Pro Assist N.V., who networks our industry in matters of breakdown service; representatives from the Central Association of the German Motor Trade, who coach us in matters of motor vehicle service; and Bernhard Schleicher from ForrestSchleicher, who advises industry companies on insurance matters.


Leif Hallerbach I Broekman+Partner