Monro Muffler Brake, Inc. (“Monro” or the “Company”) is a chain of 710 Company-operated stores (as of March 28, 2009) and 14 dealer-operated stores providing automotive undercar repair and tire services in the United States. At March 28, 2009, Monro operated Company stores in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maine under the names “Monro Muffler Brake & Service”, “Tread Quarters Discount Tire” and “Mr. Tire” (together, the “Company Stores”). The Company’s Stores typically are situated in high-visibility locations in suburban areas and small towns, as well as in major metropolitan areas. The Company Stores serviced approximately 3.5 million vehicles in fiscal 2009. (References herein to fiscal years are to the Company’s year ended fiscal March [e.g., references to “fiscal 2009” are to the Company’s fiscal year ended March 28, 2009].)
The predecessor to the Company was founded by Charles J. August in 1957 as a Midas Muffler franchise in Rochester, New York, specializing in mufflers and exhaust systems. In 1966, the Company discontinued its affiliation with Midas Muffler, and began to diversify into a full line of undercar repair services. An investor group led by Peter J. Solomon and Donald Glickman purchased a controlling interest in the Company in July 1984. At that time, Monro operated 59 stores, located primarily in upstate New York, with approximately $21 million in sales in fiscal 1984. Since 1984, Monro has continued its growth and has expanded its marketing area to include 17 additional states (including dealer locations).
In December 1998, the Company appointed Robert G. Gross as President and Chief Executive Officer, who began full-time responsibilities on January 1, 1999.
The Company was incorporated in the State of New York in 1959. The Company’s principal executive offices are located at 200 Holleder Parkway, Rochester, New York 14615, and its telephone number is (585) 647-6400.
The Company provides a broad range of services on passenger cars, light trucks and vans for brakes (estimated at 21% of fiscal 2009 sales); mufflers and exhaust systems (6%); and steering, drive train, suspension and wheel alignment (12%). The Company also provides other products and services including tires (29%) and routine maintenance services including state inspections (32%). Monro specializes in the repair and replacement of parts which must be periodically replaced as they wear out. Normal wear on these parts generally is not covered by new car warranties. The Company typically does not perform under-the-hood repair services except for oil change services, various “flush and fill” services and some minor tune-up services. The Company does not sell parts or accessories to the do-it-yourself market.
All of the Company’s stores provide the services described above. However, a growing number of the Company’s stores are more specialized in tire replacement and service and, accordingly, have a higher mix of sales in the tire category. These stores are described below as tire stores, whereas the majority of the Company’s stores are described as service stores. (See additional discussion under “Operating Strategy”.) At March 28, 2009, there were 566 stores designated as service stores and 144 as tire stores.
The Company has one wholly-owned subsidiary, Monro Service Corporation, which is a Delaware corporation qualified to do business in the State of New York.
Monro Service Corporation holds all assets, rights, responsibilities and liabilities associated with the Company’s warehousing, purchasing, advertising, accounting, office services, payroll, cash management and certain other operations that are performed in New York State and Maryland. The Company believes that this structure has enhanced, and will continue to enhance, operational efficiency and provide cost savings.
According to industry reports, demand for automotive repair services, including undercar repair and tire services, has increased due to the general increase in the number of vehicles registered, the increase in the average age of vehicles and the increased complexity of vehicles, which makes it more difficult for a vehicle owner to perform do-it-yourself repairs.
At the same time as demand for automotive repair services has grown, the number of general repair outlets has decreased, principally because fewer gas stations now perform repairs, and because there are fewer new car dealers. Monro believes that these factors present opportunities for increased sales by the Company, even though the number of specialized repair outlets (such as those operated by the Company and its direct competitors) has increased to meet the growth in demand.
Additionally, impending dealership closures, as recently announced in May 2009, by car manufacturers such as Chrysler and General Motors, are expected to increase demand for auto service at the Company’s outlets.
Monro has experienced significant growth in recent years due to acquisitions and, to a lesser extent, the opening of new stores. Management believes that the continued growth in sales and profits of the Company is dependent, in large part, upon its continued ability to open/acquire and operate new stores on a profitable basis. In addition, overall profitability of the Company could be reduced if acquired or new stores do not attain profitability.
Monro believes that there are significant expansion opportunities in new as well as existing market areas which will result from a combination of constructing stores on vacant land, opening full service Monro stores within host retailers’ service center locations (e.g. BJ’s Wholesale Clubs) and acquiring existing store locations. The Company believes that, as the industry consolidates due to the increasingly complex nature of automotive repair and the expanded capital requirements for state-of-the-art equipment, there will be increasing opportunities for acquisitions of existing businesses or store structures, and to open stores in host retailers’ locations.
In that regard, the Company has completed several acquisitions in recent years, as follows:
Effective April 1, 2002, the Company completed the acquisition of Kimmel Automotive, Inc. (the “Kimmel Acquisition”). Kimmel operated 34 tire and automotive repair stores in Maryland and Virginia, as well as Wholesale and Truck Tire Divisions (including two commercial stores). In June 2002, Monro disposed of Kimmel’s Truck Tire Division. The Maryland stores now operate primarily under the Mr. Tire brand name while the Virginia stores continue to operate under the Tread Quarters brand name.
In February 2003, Monro acquired ten company-operated tire and automotive repair store locations in the Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina markets from Frasier Tire Service, Inc. (the “Frasier Acquisition”). These stores now operate under the Tread Quarters brand name.
Effective March 1, 2004, the Company completed the acquisition of Mr. Tire stores (the “Mr. Tire Acquisition”) from Atlantic Automotive Corp., which added 26 retail tire and automotive repair stores in Maryland and Virginia, as well as a wholesale operation based in Baltimore, Maryland.
In fiscal 2005, the Company further expanded its presence in Maryland through the acquisition of certain assets of Rice Tire, Inc. (the “Rice Acquisition”) and Henderson Holdings, Inc. (the “Henderson Acquisition”), which added five and ten retail tire and automotive repair stores in the Frederick and southern Maryland markets, respectively. Thirteen of these stores operate under the Mr. Tire brand name and one under the Tread Quarters brand name. The Company closed one Rice store in fiscal 2007.
On April 29, 2006, the Company acquired substantially all of the assets of ProCare Automotive Service Solutions LLC (the “ProCare Acquisition”). The Company acquired 75 ProCare locations that offer automotive maintenance and repair services. The stores are located in eight metropolitan areas throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Company converted 31 of the acquired ProCare stores to tire stores which operate under the Mr. Tire brand. The remaining stores operate as service stores under the Monro brand. In April 2007, the Company closed three of the acquired locations in accordance with its plan for this acquisition, leaving it with 43 service stores and 29 tire stores.
On July 21, 2007, the Company acquired 11 retail tire and automotive repair stores located primarily in the Philadelphia, PA market from Valley Forge Tire & Auto Centers (“the Valley Forge Acquisition”), on July 28, 2007, the Company acquired eight retail tire and automotive repair stores located in the northern Virginia market from Craven Tire & Auto (“the Craven Acquisition”) and on January 26, 2008, the Company acquired seven retail tire and automotive repair stores located in Buffalo, NY from the Broad Elm Group (“the Broad Elm Acquisition”). The Company purchased the business and substantially all of the operating assets of these stores, which consist mainly of inventory and equipment, and assumed certain liabilities. These stores all operate under the Mr. Tire brand name.
Monro’s operating strategy is to provide its customers with a wide range of dependable, high-quality automotive service at a competitive price by emphasizing the following key elements.
Products and Services
All stores provide a full range of undercar repair services for brakes, steering, mufflers and exhaust systems, drive train, suspension and wheel alignment, as well as tire replacement and service. These services apply to all makes and models of domestic and foreign cars, light trucks and vans. The service stores provide significantly more brakes and exhaust service than tire stores, and tire stores provide substantially more tire replacement and related services than service stores.
All stores provide many of the routine maintenance services (except engine diagnostic), which automobile manufacturers suggest or require in the vehicle owners’ manuals, and which fulfill manufacturers’ requirements for new car warranty compliance. The Company offers “Scheduled Maintenance” services in all of its stores whereby the aforementioned services are packaged and offered to consumers based upon the year, make, model and mileage of each specific vehicle. Management believes that the Company is able to offer this service in a more convenient and cost competitive fashion than auto dealers can provide.
Included in maintenance services are oil change services, heating and cooling system “flush and fill” service, belt installation, fuel system service and a transmission “flush and fill” service. Additionally, all stores replace and service batteries, starters and alternators. Stores in New York, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and Vermont also perform annual state inspections. Approximately 45% of the Company’s stores also offer air conditioning services.
The Company began a program in the third quarter of fiscal year 2007 to increase tire and tire related sales, such as alignments, in its service stores. The goal is to increase the overall sales of these stores by capturing tire and related sales from existing store traffic and eventually drive additional traffic and sales. The program involves increasing the specific sales training of store managers, expanding the tire merchandise selection in these stores, and raising the focus of store advertising in this category. This initiative, which is called “Black Gold”, has now been rolled out to 168 of the Company’s service stores.
The total number of stores that the Company operates in BJ’s Wholesale Clubs is 37 at March 28, 2009.