Bridgestone Buys Pep Boys For $835M (NYSE:PBY)

Bridgestone has agreed to buy Philadelphia-based Pep Boys for $835 million, or $15 a share. Pep Boys currently has 800 stores and 14,000 employees in 35 states. The merger is likely to result in store closings and office consolidations. The West Hunting Park Ave. headquarters of Pep Boys, staffed with about 500 employees, will remain open in the near term, but its long-term future is unclear. Bridgestone has its U.S. headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.

Bridgestone’s intentions for the chain are unknown. Bridgestone may decide to sell the Pep Boys retail store business and keep the tire and service business. Pep Boys remains a leading tire seller in the national market. Bridgestone owns many of the world’s best-selling tire brands, including the Japan-based tire maker that owns Firestone tire stores. Bridgestone is unlikely to sell competitors’ tires, which could result in higher prices for consumers.

Pep Boys, the iconic auto-parts and service store chain, began in 1921 in West Philadelphia. The company was founded by Navy veterans Manny Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss, Moe Radavitz and Graham “Jack” Jackson. The chain adopted a cartoon of three of the founders as its logo.

Its first store was opened in the city’s Overbrook section at 63rd and Market. Pep Boys quickly became a fixture in neighborhood and suburban shopping centers as the place to get replacement car parts. Pep Boys supplied mass-market car-buyers for roughly 94 years, with some of the founders’ children taking senior management roles.

In recent years, Pep Boys’ retail business and its mixed retail and service format have suffered. Fewer Americans fix their own cars today than in the past. Pep Boys has been barely profitable for years, with annual sales of roughly $2 billion. Its share price has trailed competitors like Autozone, alarming its investors.

Activist shareholders have been pressuring the company to boost profits or find a new owner. New York investor Mario Gabelli, whose Gamco mutual funds control 19 percent of the company, has been one of the most vocal critics calling for change. Since 2006, Pep Boys has sought buyers several times. An offer was announced in 2012, but the deal fell through.

Receive News & Ratings Via Email - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings with our FREE daily email newsletter.