The number of U.S. fast lubes stands at 16,005, down 711 stores from a year ago, according to National Oil & Lube News 2012 Tops in the Industry Ranking.
NOLN published its annual lists of the largest fast lube chains and other oil change providers in its March 2012 issue, estimating industry sales in the U.S. will reach $8.7 billion this year, a decrease of $300 million from 2011.
The 55 fast lube chains on this years list together operate 6,791 facilities, down 122 stores from last years top 53. NOLN noted that much of the overall decline in store population could be traced to companies at the top of the list.
As of Feb. 29, 2012, Jiffy Lube still topped the list with 1,935 stores, down 1 percent from 2011. The other largest fast-lube chains included Valvoline Instant Oil Change (823 stores, down 6 percent from 2011), Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change (750), Kwik Kar (392, up 1 percent) and Havoline Xpress Lube (350). Castrol Premium Express Lube added 29 shops and grew by 36 percent, the largest growth on the fast lube list.
Among the 55 chains listed, 11 decreased, and 11 increased, so those canceled each other out, and we had another 30 that remained unchanged, NOLN Editor Tammy Neal told Lube Report. So about 80 percent of chains on the list either grew or remained the same. Thats a positive sign. The economy seems to be holding steady and maybe even improving a little bit.
Neal noted that some rebranding is occurring in the industry. It does appear that with the chains increasing and decreasing, there may be some rebranding going on, she said. People may not be re-signing with the same signage they previously had.
Walmart Tire & Lube Express, considered an oil change-plus chain because activities other than oil changes generate most of their revenues, led all oil change lists with 2,500 U.S. stores. Filling out the top five in the category were Goodyear Tire & Service Network Outlets (2,240 stores, up 22 percent from 2011), Firestone Complete Auto Care (2,187 stores, up 2 percent), Midas Auto Service Experts (1,433 stores, down 4 percent), and TBC Retail Group (1,260 stores, up 1 percent). TBC does business as Tire Kingdom, NTB, Merchants and Big O Tires.
NOLN pointed out that Goodyear is a signage program for individual operators, and its growth may be a key to understanding what is happening in the industry, noting that more facilities, such as these tire shops, are wanting their fair share of the preventive maintenance pie and are tweaking their business models to do so.
NOLNs associated lube chains list of independent operators owning six or more branded facilities was again topped by North Florida Lubes with 62 Texaco Xpress Lube and two NFL Xpress Lubes locations. Following it were Southern Express Lube (38 Mobil Lube Express, four Shell Rapid Lubes and one Stewarts Express Oil Change locations), Pioneer Quick Lube (26 Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change locations), Fast Change Lube & Oil (21 Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change locations) and Grease Lightning (11 Castrol Premium Lube Express and seven Grease Lightning locations).
The complete study is available to NOLN nonsubscribers for $75. To order, e-mail Misty Dolan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noln.net/survey_purchase.php. A monthly magazine for the fast lube industry, NOLN is based in Lubbock, Texas.