|TEV||2,831||TEV/EBIT||28||TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios|
|8-K||2020-07-29||Earnings, Other Events, Exhibits|
|Item 7. Management&Apos;S Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
|Note 1 - Description of Business, Basis of Presentation and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies|
|Note 2 - Acquisitions|
|Note 3 - Other Current Assets|
|Note 4 - Property, Plant and Equipment|
|Note 5 - Goodwill and Intangible Assets|
|Note 6 - Long - Term Debt|
|Note 7 - Revenue|
|Note 8 - Income Taxes|
|Note 9 - Stock Ownership|
|Note 10 - Share Based Compensation|
|Note 11 - Earnings per Common Share|
|Note 12 - Leasing|
|Note 13 - Employee Retirement and Profit Sharing Plans|
|Note 14 - Commitments and Contingencies|
|Note 15 - Subsequent Events|
|Item 9B. Other Information|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
Ops, Inv, Fin
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
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(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)
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Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
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Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES NO o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. YES o NO
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. YES NO o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files). YES NO o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Smaller Reporting Company
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If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). YES o NO
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on The Nasdaq Stock Market on September 27, 2019 was $
The number of shares of Registrant’s Common Stock outstanding as of May 22, 2020 was
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K that are not historical facts, including (without limitation) statements made in Item 1. “Business” and Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, may contain statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the words “anticipates,” “believes,” “contemplates,” “expects,” “see,” “could,” “may,” “estimate,” “appear,” “intend,” “plans,” “potential,” “strategy,” “will” and variations thereof and similar expressions, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed. These factors include, but are not necessarily limited to, product demand, dependence on and competition within the primary markets in which Monro, Inc.’s (“Monro,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” or “our”) stores are located, the need for and costs associated with store renovations and other capital expenditures, the duration and impact of the novel strain of coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic and its impact on our customers, executive officers and employees, the effect of economic conditions, seasonality, the impact of weather conditions and natural disasters, the impact of competitive services and pricing, parts supply restraints or difficulties, our dependence on vendors, including foreign vendors, changes in U.S. or foreign trade policies, including the impacts of tariffs on products imported from China, industry regulation, risks relating to leverage and debt service (including sensitivity to fluctuations in interest rates), continued availability of capital resources and financing, advances in automotive technologies, disruption or unauthorized access to our computer systems, risks relating to protection of customer and employee personal data, business interruptions, risks relating to litigation, risks relating to integration of acquired businesses, including goodwill impairment and the risks set forth in Item 1A. “Risk Factors”. Except as required by law, we do not undertake and specifically disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements.
The Company relied on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Order under Section 36 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Modifying Exemptions from the Reporting and Proxy Delivery Requirements for Public Companies dated March 25, 2020 (Release No. 34-88465) (the “Release”) to delay the filing of its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended March 28, 2020 (the “2020 10-K”), due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, COVID-19 has caused severe disruptions in Company operations including limited access to and support from the Company’s accounting staff, which caused a delay in the Company’s ability to complete the 2020 10-K by the original due date of May 27, 2020. On May 27, 2020, the Company filed a Current Report on Form 8-K which stated that it expected to file its 2020 10-K no later than 45 days after the original due date, in compliance with the provisions of the Release.
Item 1. Business
Monro is a chain of 1,283 Company-operated stores (as of March 28, 2020), 98 franchised locations, eight wholesale locations, three retread facilities and two dealer-operated stores providing automotive undercar repair and tire sales and services in the United States. At March 28, 2020, Monro operated Company stores in 32 states, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, primarily under the names “Monro Auto Service and Tire Centers,” “Tread Quarters Discount Tire Auto Service Centers,” “Mr. Tire Auto Service Centers,” “Autotire Car Care Centers,” “Tire Warehouse Tires for Less,” “Tire Barn Warehouse,” “Ken Towery’s Tire & Auto Care,” “Tire Choice Auto Service Centers,” and “Car-X Tire & Auto”. Company-operated stores typically are situated in high-visibility locations in suburban areas and small towns, as well as in major metropolitan areas. Company-operated stores serviced approximately 6.1 million vehicles in fiscal 2020. (References herein to fiscal years are to our year ended fiscal March, e.g., references to "fiscal 2020" are to our fiscal year ended March 28, 2020.)
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. Monro was incorporated in the State of New York in 1959. In 1966, we discontinued our 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, we have continued our growth and have expanded our marketing area to include 31 additional states.
Our principal executive offices are located at 200 Holleder Parkway, Rochester, New York 14615, and our telephone number is (585) 647-6400.
We provide tire sales and services as well as a broad range of routine maintenance services, including state inspections, primarily on passenger cars, light trucks and vans. We also provide other products and services for brakes; mufflers and exhaust systems; and steering, drive train, suspension and wheel alignment. We specialize 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. We typically do not perform under-the-hood repair services except for routine maintenance services, such as oil change services, various “flush and fill” services and some minor tune-up services.
All of the Company-operated stores, except Tire Warehouse Tires for Less (“Tire Warehouse”) and Tire Barn Warehouse stores, provide the services described above. Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn Warehouse stores only sell tires and tire related services and alignments. However, a growing number of our Company-operated stores are more specialized in tire replacement and service and, accordingly, have a higher mix of sales in the tire category. These Company-operated stores are described below as tire stores, whereas the remaining stores are described as service stores. (See additional discussion under “Operations”.) The acquisition of tire stores, as well as rebranding certain service stores to tire stores, allows us to fill in our existing markets with a second store more specialized in tire replacement and service. We believe this provides us with a competitive advantage, and we utilize this fill-in strategy to maximize density in the markets we operate in.
Included in the number of Company-operated stores described as tire stores are certain locations that also service commercial customers. Our locations that serve commercial customers conduct tire and automotive repair activities that are similar to our retail locations, other than with respect to the sales mix resulting from the sale of commercial tires. At March 28, 2020, there were 499 stores designated as service stores and 784 as tire stores.
In recent years, we have acquired multiple wholesale locations as well as retread facilities located in numerous states that operate under various names. The wholesale locations, in most cases, sell tires to customers for resale, although these tire sales do not include installation or other tire related services. The retread facilities re-manufacture tires through the replacement of tread on worn tires that are later sold to customers.
As of March 28, 2020, Monro had eight wholesale locations and three retread facilities.
Our sales mix for fiscal 2020, 2019 and 2018 was as follows:
The Company has four wholly-owned operating subsidiaries, Monro Service Corporation, Car-X, LLC, MNRO Holdings, LLC and MNRO Service Holdings, LLC. Both of MNRO Holdings, LLC and MNRO Service Holdings, LLC, each of which are a Delaware limited liability company, were organized in connection with our West Coast operations.
Monro Service Corporation, a Delaware corporation, holds all assets, rights, responsibilities and liabilities associated with our warehousing, purchasing, advertising, accounting, office services, payroll, cash management and certain other operations. We believe that this structure has enhanced operational efficiency and provides cost savings.
On April 25, 2015, we acquired the Car-X brand, as well as the franchise rights for 146 auto service centers from Car-X Associates Corp. Car-X, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, operates as the franchisor through a standard royalty agreement, while Car-X remains a separate and independent brand and business with franchise operations based in Illinois.
As of March 28, 2020, Monro had 97 Car-X franchised locations.
Our operations are organized and managed in one operating segment. The internal management financial reporting that is the basis for evaluation in order to assess performance and allocate resources by our chief operating decision maker consists of consolidated data that includes the results of our retail, commercial and wholesale locations. As such, our one operating segment reflects how our operations are managed, how resources are allocated, how operating performance is evaluated by senior management and the structure of our internal financial reporting.
There are a number of industry trends driving a favorable shift in the automotive aftermarket. New car sales have been robust over the past five years,1 resulting in consistent growth in the number of vehicles on the road,2 which on average (and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) are being driven more miles per year.3 Over the past few years, the industry grew significantly in vehicles zero to five years old, driven by the growth in new car sales after the Great Recession.4 Conversely, six to 11 year old vehicles, which we consider our targeted segment, declined over the past several years.5 However, we believe these structural headwinds were transitory, and have started to turn into tailwinds, a trend we expect to continue over the next few years as the shifting dynamic of the age of vehicles in operation indicates the volume of vehicles in the six to 11 year old range, which drive the most repair opportunities, are expected to grow 27 percent from 2018-2023.6 This is evidenced by the increasing average age of cars and light trucks in the United States, which rose to 11.8 years in 2019.7
Additionally, vehicles generally need more service and repairs as they advance in age. However, as consumers’ vehicles age, the consumers’ willingness to pay higher prices decreases. We intend to be able to offer better value than the new car dealers to these more price-sensitive consumers. Monro’s service menu is focused on items that provide good purchase frequency, like oil changes and other scheduled services, along with higher value services like tires, brakes and other undercar services. These dynamics, combined with a declining number of service outlets and bays, are important traffic drivers for us as consumers go to outlets they trust to provide tires, maintenance, and repair services for their vehicles.
The continued shift from Do-It-Yourself to Do-It-For-Me is another favorable trend in our industry. The automotive aftermarket is estimated at approximately $287 billion in the U.S. and is primarily concentrated on the Do-It-For-Me channel, which represents about 80% of the market.8 There has been acceleration in the shift from Do-It-Yourself to Do-It-For-Me, and we expect that trend to continue with the increasing adoption of technology in new vehicles. As vehicles are becoming more technologically complex, we expect consumers will be less likely to be able to service their cars themselves, and instead will need to bring them to an automotive repair provider, such as Monro, to be serviced.
In addition, any meaningful shift to fully electric vehicles will create opportunities for expanded services to complement the tires, ride control and brake services that will still be required on those vehicles. Monro provides our technicians with the necessary training to remain on the cutting edge of these changes. However, these changes create challenges for smaller competitors, who will struggle to make the investments needed to keep up with the evolving marketplace.
We also believe that ride-sharing may provide increased opportunities for the automotive aftermarket. Individuals who provide ride-sharing services are likely to drive their vehicles more, therefore potentially needing their vehicles serviced more often by providers such as Monro. Additionally, while there is potential for fewer cars on the road due to these ride-sharing programs, this is not expected to have a near-term impact on our industry.
We believe Monro is well-positioned to capitalize on these long-term industry dynamics and favorable macro trends, which we expect will help position Monro to deliver consistent and sustainable organic growth.
In the near-term, the U.S. automotive aftermarket industry has been significantly impacted by the effects of COVID-19. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (the "WHO") declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On March 13, 2020, the U.S. government declared a national emergency and U.S. state governments have declared states of emergency, as well. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many U.S. state governments, in states in which we operate, have taken preventative or protective actions, such as issuing stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures. State and local governments have ordered temporary closures of some businesses and numerous other businesses have temporarily closed voluntarily. Further, individuals' ability to travel has been curtailed through mandated travel restrictions and may be further limited through additional voluntary or mandated closures of certain businesses. However, in our locations, the automotive undercar repair and tire sales and services industry has been classified as an essential business.
1Vehicle Sales: Autos and Light Trucks, retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (“FRED Economic Data”), May 2020
2IHS Markit, report on Average Age of Cars and Light Trucks in U.S., June 2019 (“IHS Markit Data”)
3FRED Economic Data, Moving 12-Month Total Vehicle Miles Traveled, May 2020
4IHS Markit, report on U.S. Light Vehicles in Operation, accessed May 2018
6IHS Markit Data, June 2019
8Auto Care Association, Auto Care Factbook, accessed May 2018
While our industry is considered an essential business, state mandated shutdowns and stay-at-home orders enacted across the country impacted consumer demand and we experienced an immediate and significant decline in traffic during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, and this reduction in traffic has continued through the date of this report. In the macroeconomic environment, the impact of the pandemic has led to a significant increase in the U.S. unemployment rate, while decreasing new car sales and total miles driven. To the extent the pandemic is ongoing, we expect a continued negative impact of these factors, but we are unable to predict the duration and magnitude of the impact to our business. Once the pandemic subsides and government actions to curb the spread begin to abate, we believe consumers will drive more, supported by low gas prices, as well as the fact that they may be less willing to fly or take public transportation. Additionally, in a recessionary environment, consumers will be less likely to buy new cars and more likely to repair the existing cars they own. We believe this will continue to increase the average age of vehicles in operation.
In October 2017, we completed a rigorous and comprehensive business assessment to identify areas of opportunity to improve in-store execution and the customer experience across our store base to drive higher traffic with a focus on overall customer lifetime value.
Based on these observations, we developed our strategic plan, called Monro.Forward, which is focused on four key pillars:
Improving the guest experience. The key focus areas of this initiative are improving our online reputation, delivering a consistent five-star experience to our customers in store, and refreshing our store appearance.
Enhancing our customer centric engagement. Supported by data-driven market strategies we are improving our customer retention and acquisition efforts, as well as building a true omni-channel presence.
Optimizing our product and service offering. Through this initiative, we are redefining our selling approach and optimizing our tire assortment both in-store and online.
Accelerating productivity and team engagement. By optimizing our store staffing model, creating a clearly defined career path, enhancing our training program and aligning our compensation we are driving to attain and retain quality talent.
We believe that these four key pillars, supported by investments in technology and data analytics, will create a scalable platform for sustainable growth over time.
In the long term, executing on accretive acquisition opportunities also remains a key element of our growth strategy. However, we have currently paused all acquisition activity due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, and when we are able to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to effectively as well as efficiently acquire our targets using a data-driven, analytical approach. We have a robust pipeline and believe the fragmentation of our industry allows for many opportunities for consolidation. Using consumer demographic analytics, we are able to better identify targets that operate in the markets with favorable demographics and customer trends, allowing us to enter regions from which we are poised to benefit most. Additionally, to ensure we are capitalizing on these opportunities, we have added talent and structure to our mergers and acquisitions teams, who will work with our management team to ensure we capitalize on the momentum in the market. Finally, we believe the implementation of our Monro.Forward initiatives will allow us to more effectively integrate acquisitions and drive higher return on investment (“ROI”) going forward as we will have a more structured, consistent and effective business model.
In that regard, we have completed many acquisitions, including:
Kost Tire Distributors, Inc.
McGee Tire Stores, Inc.
Clark Tire & Auto, Inc.
Auto MD, LLC
Appalachian Tire Products, Inc.
KY, OH, VA, WV
Free Service Tire Company, Incorporated
Sawyer Tire, Inc.
Jeff Pohlman Tire & Auto Service, Inc.
Car-X/ Mr. Tire
R. A. Johnson, Inc.
Allied Discount Tire & Brake, Inc.
Certified Tire & Service Centers, Inc.
Atlas Tire Center, Inc.; LRZ3 Auto, LLC; T-Boy's Tire and Automotive, LLC; Twin Tire & Auto Care, Inc.; Twin Tire & Auto Care Team, Inc.; Scotty's Tire & Automotive, Inc.
S & S Unlimited, Inc. and Lloyd’s Tire Service, Inc.
Nevada Tire Holdings, LLC and Idaho Tire Holdings, LLC
(a)Table includes only acquisitions of five or more Company-operated stores for the five-year fiscal period ended March 28, 2020.
(b)Seven stores were subsequently closed due to redundancies or failure to achieve an acceptable level of profitability. See additional discussion under “Store Additions and Closings”.
(c)In this table, “Monro” refers to the name, not the corporation. Additionally, stores acquired from S&S Unlimited, Inc., Lloyd’s Tire Service, Inc., Nevada Tire Holdings, LLC and Idaho Tire Holdings, LLC have yet to be renamed, but are expected to begin operating under the Tire Choice name in fiscal 2021.
(d)One retread facility was also acquired and is operating under the McGee Tire name.
(e)Four wholesale locations were also acquired and are operating under the Tires Now name and one retread facility was also acquired and is operating under the Tire Choice name.
(f)One acquired store was never opened.
(g)Four wholesale locations and one retread facility were also acquired and are operating under the Tires Now and FreeService Tire names, respectively. (One wholesale location has since closed.)
(h)One distribution center was also acquired.
(i)One acquired store in Nevada is under construction and has yet to open. This store is expected to open in fiscal 2021.
STORE ADDITIONS AND CLOSINGS (a)
The following table shows the growth in the number of Company-operated stores over the last five fiscal years:
Year Ended Fiscal March
Stores open at beginning of year
Stores added during year
Stores closed during year (b)
Stores open at end of year
(a)Table includes only Company-operated stores. No franchised, wholesale, retread or dealer locations are included.
(b)Generally, stores were closed because they failed to achieve or maintain an acceptable level of profitability or because a new company store was opened in the same market at a more favorable location.
(c)Includes 88 stores acquired in the fiscal 2020 Acquisitions. One additional store was acquired from Nevada Tire Holdings, LLC which was under construction at closing. This store is expected to open in fiscal 2021.
(d)Includes 51 stores acquired in the fiscal 2019 Acquisitions.
(e)Includes 45 stores acquired in the fiscal 2018 Acquisitions. (Excludes the UVR, Inc. store that was never opened.)
(f)Includes 90 stores acquired in the fiscal 2017 Acquisitions.
(g)Includes 40 stores acquired in the fiscal 2016 Acquisitions.
We currently expect to close 36 stores in fiscal 2021 that we concluded have failed to maintain an acceptable level of profitability.
We plan to add approximately 10 to 20 new greenfield stores in fiscal 2021 and to pursue appropriate acquisition candidates. Greenfield stores include new construction as well as the acquisition of one to four store operations.
Key factors in market and site selection for selecting new greenfield store locations include population, demographic characteristics, vehicle population and the intensity of competition. We partner with a customer analytics firm to provide market segmentation and demographic data specific to a geographic area in close proximity to a Monro location to identify high value lookalike customers and market directly to them. We attempt to cluster stores in market areas in order to achieve economies of scale in advertising, supervision and distribution costs. All new greenfield sites presently under consideration are within our established market areas.
As a result of extensive analysis of our historical and projected store opening strategy, we have established major market profiles, as defined by market awareness: mature, existing and new markets. Over the next several years, we expect to build or acquire stores in mature and existing markets in order to capitalize on our market presence and consumer awareness as well as grow in new markets through building and acquisitions. During fiscal 2020, 10 of the stores added (including acquired stores) were located in existing markets and 88 stores were added (including acquired stores) in new markets.
Monro has a chain-wide computerized inventory control and point-of-sale (“POS”) management information system, which has increased management's ability to monitor operations as the number of stores has grown. We have customized the POS system to specific service and tire store requirements and deploy the appropriate version in each type of store. The system includes the following:
Entry of a license plate and state automatically fills in vehicle identification number (“VIN”), year, make, and model. This provides accurate VIN, year, make, and model information while simplifying the estimate process at the store;
Online catalogs and online parts ordering directly with vendors;
Electronic mail and electronic cataloging, which allows store managers to electronically research the specific parts needed for the make and model of the car being serviced;
Electronic repair manuals that allow for instant access to a single source of accurate, up-to-date, original equipment manufacturer-direct diagnosis, repair and maintenance information;
Software which contains data that mirrors the scheduled maintenance requirements in vehicle owner’s manuals, specifically by make, model, year and mileage for every major automobile brand. Management believes that this software facilitates the presentation and sale of scheduled maintenance services to customers;
Streamlining of estimating and other processes;
A feature which facilitates tire searches by size;
Direct mail support;
Online appointment scheduling;
Customer service history;
A thermometer graphic which guides store managers on the profitability of each job;
The ability to view inventory of up to the closest 14 stores or warehouse; and
Expanded monitoring of price changes. This requires more specificity on the reason for a discount, which management believes helps to control discounting.
Enhancements will continue to be made to the POS system in an effort to increase efficiency, improve the quality and timeliness of store reporting and enable us to better serve our customers.
The financing to build a new greenfield service store location may be accomplished in one of three ways: (i) a store lease for the land and building (in which case, land and building costs will be financed primarily by the lessor), (ii) a land lease with the building constructed by Monro (with building costs paid by Monro), or (iii) a land purchase with the building constructed by Monro. In all three cases, for service stores, each new store also will require approximately $225,000 for equipment (including a POS system and a truck) and approximately $95,000 in inventory. Because we generally do not extend credit to most customers, stores generate almost no receivables and a new store's actual net working capital investment is nominal. Total capital required to build a new greenfield service store ranges, on average, from $360,000 to $990,000 depending on the location and which of the three financing methods is used. In general, tire stores are larger and have more service bays than Monro’s traditional service stores and, as a result, construction costs are at the high end of the range of new store construction costs. Total capital required to build a new greenfield tire (land and building leased) location costs, on average, approximately $600,000, including $250,000 for equipment and $130,000 for inventory. In instances where we acquire an existing business, we may pay additional amounts for intangible assets such as customer lists, covenants not-to-compete, trade names and goodwill, but generally will pay less per bay for equipment and real property.
At March 28, 2020, we leased the land and/or the building at approximately 74% of our store locations and owned the land and building at the remaining locations. Monro's policy is to situate new stores in the best locations, without regard to the form of ownership required to develop the locations.
New service and tire stores, (excluding acquired stores), have average sales of approximately $450,000 and $1,050,000, respectively, in their first 12 months of operation, or $77,000 and $150,000, respectively, per bay.
As part of Monro.Forward, one of our largest initiatives is to improve our customers’ in-store experience. This initiative is twofold and includes the implementation of standardized in-store operating procedures, followed by reimaging stores to create a more consistent appearance. Through these efforts, we have taken major steps to improve our customers' in-store experience and help ensure that we deliver a 5-star experience at each of our store locations.
We have taken an education-centered approach to the in-store customer selling process and trained our teams to execute our standardized procedures, which we call our Monro Playbook, to drive consistency across all locations. Our Monro Playbook includes clearly defined roles and responsibilities for our employees with a focus on service quality. We expect that this clear and consistent selling approach, coupled with our stronger merchandise strategy, will be instrumental in driving higher in-store conversion. To complement our Monro Playbook, we also established clear brand standards to align the appearance of our stores and further drive consistency across our store base that currently includes a wide range of stores and formats. We determine the appropriate scope of refresh needed for each of our stores by examining their age, size and market demographics to ensure we are investing the appropriate amount of capital to achieve the highest possible returns.
During fiscal 2019, we reached a significant milestone in this initiative by completing our pilot initiative of 30 stores in Rochester, NY. During fiscal 2020, we completed the roll out of our brand operational standards and the store modernization of 175 additional stores. We have currently suspended all capital expenditures related to the roll out of our brand operational standards and store modernization initiatives due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. When we are able to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to continue the roll out of our brand operational standards across our store base and modernize our remaining store portfolio, which we estimate will take two to four years.
To drive improved consistency across our store base, we also implemented tablet-based dashboards and a cloud-based standardized store review process. Our tablets and dashboards allow our store operation leaders to more effectively evaluate and manage each store's performance across numerous key performance indicators, including customer satisfaction and online reviews, traffic and sales trends by category, margin performance and staffing and labor metrics. Managers have the ability to track these metrics versus historical trends and their peers, with the information flowing to them in near real time.
Our store review process now is standardized across all districts in the Company and will drive increased visibility into the field. This standardized store review process allows us to take both a quantitative and qualitative approach to assessing our store performance, evaluating each store regularly on 135 points across five areas ranging from store appearance to operational performance. Overall, we believe our data-driven approach and related investments in technology will drive efficiency in our stores and our field management organization, reducing the time that they spend identifying underlying causes of performance issues and allowing them to prioritize their time and attention to coach our store teams on improving their results. The cloud-based systems will also increase the transparency and accountability throughout our organization and drive consistent improvement in execution across all of our stores.
The typical format for a Monro store is a free-standing building consisting of a sales area, fully-equipped service bays and a parts/tires storage area. Most service bays are equipped with above-ground electric vehicle lifts. Generally, each store is located within 25 miles of a “key” store which carries approximately double the inventory of a typical store and serves as a mini-distribution point for slower moving inventory for other stores in its area. Individual store sizes, number of bays and stocking levels vary greatly, even within the service and tire store groups, and are dependent primarily on the availability of suitable store locations, population, demographics and intensity of competition among other factors. (See additional discussion under “Store Additions and Closings”.) A summary of average store data for service and tire stores is presented below:
Tire stores (excluding Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn
Data for the Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn Warehouse stores has been excluded because these locations primarily install new tires and wheels and many perform alignments. Additionally, most Tire Warehouse stores have one indoor service bay to perform alignments. The store building houses a waiting room, storage area and an area to mount and balance tires on the car’s wheels once the wheels and tires have been removed from the car. Removal of old tires and wheels from, and installation of new tires and wheels on, customers’ cars are performed outdoors under a carport. The average inventory carried by the Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn Warehouse stores is $246,000 per store.
Stores generally are situated in high-visibility locations in suburban areas, major metropolitan areas or small towns and offer easy customer access. The typical store is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. A majority of store locations are also open Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Our stores are currently operating on a reduced schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When we are able to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to operate our stores on a more normalized schedule prior to the schedule reduction.
Inventory Control and Management Information System
All Company stores communicate daily with the corporate headquarters and warehouse by computerized inventory control and electronic POS management information systems, which enable us to collect sales and operational data on a daily basis, to adjust store pricing to reflect local conditions and to control inventory on a near real-time basis. Additionally, each store has access, through the POS system, to the inventory carried by up to the 14 stores or warehouse nearest to it. Management believes that this feature improves customer satisfaction and store productivity by reducing the time required to locate out-of-stock parts and tires. It also improves profitability because it reduces the amount of inventory which must be purchased outside Monro from local vendors.
Quality Control and Warranties
To maintain quality control, we conduct audits to rate our employees' telephone sales manner and the accuracy of pricing information given.
We have a customer review and survey program to monitor customer attitudes toward service quality, friendliness, speed of service, and overall customer experience for each store. Customer concerns are addressed by customer service and field management personnel.
Monro uses a “Double Check for Accuracy Program” as part of our routine store procedures. This quality assurance program requires that a technician and supervisory-level employee independently inspect a customer’s vehicle, diagnose and document the necessary repairs, and agree on an estimate before presenting it to a customer. This process is formally documented on the written estimate by store personnel.
We are an active member of the Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (“AMRA”). AMRA is an organization of automotive retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers which was established as part of an industry-wide effort to address the ethics and business practices of companies in the automotive repair industry through the Motorist Assurance Program (“MAP”). Participating companies commit to improving consumer confidence and trust in the automotive repair industry by adopting “Uniform Inspection Communication Standards” (“UICS”) established by MAP. These UICS are available in our stores and serve to provide consistent recommendations to customers in the diagnosis and repair of a vehicle.
We offer limited warranties on substantially all of the products and services that we provide. We believe that these warranties are competitive with industry practices and serve as a marketing tool to increase repeat business at our stores.
Store Personnel and Training
Monro supervises store operations primarily through our Regional Vice Presidents who oversee Zone Managers who, in turn, oversee District Managers. The typical service store is staffed by a Store Manager and four to six technicians, one of whom serves as the Assistant Manager. The typical tire store, except Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn stores, is staffed by a Store Manager, an Assistant Manager and/or Service Manager, and four to eight technicians. Larger volume service and tire stores may also have one or two sales people. The higher staffing level at many tire stores is necessary to support their higher sales volume. Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn stores are generally staffed by a Store Manager and two to four technicians, one of whom serves as the Assistant Manager. All Store Managers and Assistant Managers receive either hourly or salaried compensation. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reduced staffing to match lower demand.
We believe that the ability to recruit and retain qualified technicians is an important competitive factor in the automotive repair industry, which has historically experienced a high turnover rate. As part of our Monro.Forward strategy, we are creating a clearly defined career path and enhanced training program to attract, develop and retain our talent.
During fiscal 2019, we also optimized our store staffing model by rightsizing our overstaffed and understaffed stores. As a next step, we expect to implement during fiscal 2021 a cloud-based data-driven store staffing and scheduling system to drive further staffing efficiency by more accurately re-balancing the level of technical skills in each store, ensuring our stores are staffed with technicians who have the right skill levels based on sales and volume mix as well as that store's growth potential.
To attract the right talent and build the best team in the aftermarket auto industry, we are focused on providing our people with the right training to optimize their performance. To accomplish this, we substantially implemented during fiscal 2020 a cloud-based curriculum called Monro University. We believe this curriculum provides our employees with the technical training needed to effectively serve our customers today and prepare them to handle future technician requirements as vehicles become more complex with the increased adoption of technology.
In addition to Monro University, our training department develops and coordinates technical training courses on critical areas of automotive repair to Monro technicians (e.g. Antilock braking systems (“ABS”) brake repair, drivability, tire pressure monitoring system (“TPMS”), etc.) and also conducts required technical training to maintain compliance with state inspection licenses, where applicable, and AMRA/MAP accreditation. Additionally, our training department holds periodic field technical clinics for store personnel and coordinates technician attendance at technical clinics offered by our vendors. We have electronic repair manuals installed in all of our stores for daily reference. We also issue technical bulletins to all stores on innovative or complex repair processes, and maintain a centralized database for technical repair problems. In addition, Monro has established a telephone technical help line to provide assistance to store personnel in resolving problems encountered while diagnosing and repairing vehicles. The help line is available during all hours of store operation. A comprehensive set of on-line courses in automotive repair and tire service is made available for our technicians to participate in at no cost.
Many of our new technicians join the Company in their early twenties as trainees or apprentices. As they progress, many are promoted to technician and eventually master technician, the latter requiring Automotive Service Excellence (“ASE”) certification in eight different categories. We offer free online ASE certification preparation courses and will reimburse technicians for the cost of ASE certification registration fees and test fees. We also offer a tool purchase program through which trainee technicians can acquire their own set of tools.
Our training program provides multiple training sessions to both Store Managers and technicians in each store, each year.
Management training courses developed by our training department and operations management are provided through Monro University, and are supplemented with live and on-line vendor training courses. Management training covers safety, customer service, sales, human resources (counseling, recruiting, interviewing, etc.), leadership, scheduling, financial and operational areas, and is delivered on a regular basis. We believe that involving operations management in the development and delivery of these sessions results in more relevant and actionable training for Store Managers, and helps to improve overall performance and staff retention.
Monro also maintains an employee website that contains many resources for both managers and technicians to reference including Human Resource information and forms. Additionally, there is a Facilities section containing important environmental and equipment information, as well as Store Manager and Technician sections that contain other training programs, including on-line training videos, and documents specific for both managers and technicians.
We also expect to drive higher retention by providing more transparency into career opportunities and to aid our employees in charting their own course towards advancement. This is further supported by annual reviews with employees to align their own developmental objectives with our desired business objectives. Further, we ensure our incentives are tightly connected to desired performance. While our previous compensation model was based solely on profitability, our new compensation model is based on a balanced scorecard that rewards same-store sales growth, profitability and traffic. The incentives are designed to increase as the employees' performance improves with maximum payouts for outstanding performance. This new compensation plan also streamlines all previous bonus programs, creating consistency and providing us the ability to use labor more productively across our stores and districts.
Monro provides our customers with a wide range of dependable, high-quality tire and automotive services at a competitive price by emphasizing the following key elements.
Products and Services
The typical store provides 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. During fiscal 2018, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of our product and service offerings to develop a clearly defined merchandise strategy. As a result of this analysis, we launched Good, Better, Best service packages during the first quarter of fiscal 2019 to provide customers with clear options to choose the right services for their vehicle. Offering several options keeps the customer education and in-store selling process simple and gives our employees the opportunity to trade customers up to higher-value packages and increase attachment sales. Additionally, we launched the pilot phase of our tire category and pricing system in a number of our markets during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020. This new tool will allow us to dynamically track demand trends and make rapid adjustments to optimize our tire assortment by leveraging the breadth of our tire brand portfolio to offer the right tires at the right price points. We see potential in leveraging data analytics to align our tire inventory assortment with consumer demographics, so that we can drive long-term margin expansion in our largest category by providing the right-size tire inventory for the vehicle population surrounding our stores.
As a percentage of sales, the service stores provide significantly more brake and maintenance services than tire stores, and tire stores provide substantially more tire replacement and related services than service stores.
Stores generally provide many of the routine maintenance services (except engine diagnostic), which automobile manufacturers suggest or require in the vehicle owner’s manuals, and which fulfill manufacturers’ requirements for new car warranty compliance. We offer "Scheduled Maintenance" services in our 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 we 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, most stores replace and service batteries, starters and alternators. Stores in certain states also perform annual state inspections. Additionally, approximately 74% of our stores offer air conditioning services.
The format of the Tire Warehouse and Tire Barn Warehouse stores are slightly different from Monro’s typical service or tire stores (as described above) in that, generally, over 92% of the stores’ sales involve tire services, including the mounting and balancing of tires, and the sale of road hazard warranties. Most of these stores also provide the installation of wiper blades. Currently, 80% of Tire Warehouse and 90% of Tire Barn Warehouse stores perform alignments.
As part of our Monro.Forward strategy, we have fundamentally changed our culture from a transaction-focused business to one that is built on long-term customer relationships. To achieve this goal, we launched a new technology-supported customer satisfaction and online review management system during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018. We are using this technology to help us solicit feedback from our customers across all major areas of their brand experience. Additionally, we leverage our online reviews to learn more about what our customers want and need, and how we can always deliver a 5-star experience to them. Utilizing the insights from these investments, we are making improvements to our store operations, which in turn are leading to a material improvement in Monro's overall star rating across online review sites. As of March 28, 2020, we have an all-time high average Company rating of 4.6 stars across our 1,283 locations. Equally important, we believe improved customer experience is a virtuous cycle, as it leads to improved online ratings that drive better visibility online, which in turn leads to increased conversion and ultimately higher potential traffic to our stores.
Competitive Pricing, Advertising and Co-branding Initiatives
Monro seeks to set competitive prices for quality services and products. We support our pricing strategy with special offers and coupons distributed through a variety of channels including: direct mail, e-mail, digital advertising, fliers, promotional store signage and in-store displays. In addition, to increase consumer awareness of the services we offer, Monro has a presence in traditional and digital radio, billboards and relevant directories. We are concentrating our marketing efforts in high ROI channels, with an emphasis on the digital environment. Our digital marketing efforts include paid and organic search on all major search engines. On-line reviews are obtained from various review sites, including Google and Facebook. Our review star rating has increased to an all-time high of 4.6 as of March 28, 2020. Digital advertising also includes search remarketing and banner and mobile advertising. We also manage social media profiles on a variety of platforms. We leverage customer relationship marketing and data analytics to reach our customers where they are and deliver tailored messages based on our customer specific vehicle needs. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reduced advertising spend. When we are able to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to adjust advertising to a more normalized level.
We are committed to building an omni-channel presence to create a seamless buying experience for our customers. During the second quarter of fiscal 2019, we launched modernized retail and corporate websites, the first phase of this initiative and a major milestone in the development of our online presence. Our primary websites include www.monro.com, www.mrtire.com, www.tqtire.com, www.autotire.com, www.tirewarehouse.net, www.kentowery.com, www.tirebarn.com, www.thetirechoice.com, www.carx.com and www.tiresnowonline.com. With responsive optimized design for mobile users, a streamlined tire search and improved content and functionality, our new retail websites better position us to address our customers’ needs. These websites help customers search for store locations, print coupons, make service appointments, shop for tires and access information on our services and products, as well as car care tips. Importantly, they better showcase the solutions we provide to our customers, including our Good, Better, Best product and service packages.
Our corporate website is www.corporate.monro.com, which provides detailed information regarding Monro’s vision, values, leadership and financial performance. Information available on our website and the websites listed above is not part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
While we both operate and franchise stores, we believe that direct operation of stores enhances our ability to compete by providing centralized control of such areas of operations as service quality, store appearance, promotional activity and pricing. We also believe our experience in operating stores makes us a more valuable partner to our franchisees. A high level of competence is maintained throughout the Company, as we require as a condition of employment, that employees participate in periodic training programs, including sales, management, customer service and changes in automotive technology. Additionally, purchasing, distribution, merchandising, advertising, accounting and other store support functions are centralized primarily in Monro's corporate headquarters in Rochester, New York and are provided through our subsidiary, Monro Service Corporation. The centralization of these functions results in efficiencies and gives management the ability to closely monitor and control costs.
PURCHASING AND DISTRIBUTION
Through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Monro Service Corporation, we select and purchase tires, parts and supplies for all Company-operated stores on a centralized basis through an automatic replenishment system. Although purchases outside the centralized system are made when needed at the store level, these purchases are low by industry standards and accounted for approximately 19% of all parts and tires used in fiscal 2020.
Our ten largest vendors accounted for approximately 84% of our total stocking purchases, with the largest vendor accounting for approximately 28% of total stocking purchases in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2020, Monro imported approximately 25% of our parts (excluding batteries, oil and supplies) and tire purchases. We purchase parts, oil and tires from approximately 120 vendors. Management believes that our relationships with vendors are excellent and that alternative sources of supply exist, at comparable cost, for substantially all parts used in our business. We routinely obtain bids from vendors to ensure we are receiving competitive pricing and terms.
Amid global tariffs, market uncertainty (including the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic) and other material cost pressures, our vertically-integrated and diversified supply chain continues to drive our cost leadership position and remains a key differentiator in our industry.
Most parts are shipped by vendors to our warehouse facilities and are distributed to stores by the Monro-operated tractor/trailer fleet. The majority of tires are shipped to our stores directly by vendors pursuant to orders placed by our headquarters staff. Stores are replenished at least bi-weekly, and such replenishment fills, on average, 92% of all items ordered by the stores' automatic POS-driven replenishment system. Monro operates warehouses in California, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. These warehouses each carry, on average, approximately 2,500 SKUs.
We enter into contracts with certain parts and tire suppliers, some of which require us to buy (at market competitive prices) up to 100% of our annual purchases of specific products. These agreements expire at various dates. We believe these agreements provide us with high quality, branded merchandise at preferred pricing, along with strong marketing and training support.
Monro competes in the automotive service and tire industry. This industry is generally highly competitive and fragmented, and the number, size and strength of competitors vary widely from region to region. We believe that competition in this industry is based on customer service and reputation, store location, name awareness and price. Monro's primary competitors include national and regional undercar, tire specialty and general automotive service chains, both franchised and company-operated; car dealerships, mass merchandisers’ operating service centers; and, to a lesser extent, gas stations, independent garages and Internet tire sellers. Monro considers TBC Corporation (operating primarily under the NTB, Midas and Tire Kingdom brands), Firestone Complete Auto Care service stores, The Pep Boys – Manny, Moe and Jack service stores, Meineke, and Mavis Discount Tire to be direct competitors. In most of the new markets that we have entered, at least one competitor was already present. In identifying new markets, we analyze, among other factors, the intensity of competition. (See "Monro.Forward Strategy” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations".)
As of March 28, 2020, Monro had 8,184 employees, of whom 7,595 were employed in the field organization, 261 were employed at the warehouses, 272 were employed at our corporate headquarters and 56 were employed in other offices. Monro's employees are not members of any union. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reduced our workforce through furlough or other reduction. When we are able to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to adjust our workforce to meet demand.
Our strong commitment to support our teammates' professional development and the cultural changes we have made across the organization have had a tremendous impact on our ability to retain talent, as evidenced by our quarterly turnover reaching its lowest level in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015, continuing a trend we observed in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019. We have received strong positive feedback from our employees supporting our Monro.Forward initiatives and the actions we are taking to better serve our customers.
We are subject to various federal, state and local laws and governmental regulations relating to the operation of our business, including, among other things, those regarding employment and labor practices, workplace safety, zoning and the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous substances contained in the products that we sell and use in our service bays, the recycling of batteries, tires and used lubricants, and the ownership and operation of real property. We maintain programs to facilitate compliance with these laws and regulations. We believe that we are in compliance with all applicable environmental and other laws and regulations, and our related compliance costs are not material.
Monro stores new oil and recycled antifreeze and generates and/or handles used tires and automotive oils, antifreeze and certain solvents, which are disposed of by licensed third-party contractors. In certain states, as required, we also recycle oil filters. Accordingly, we are subject to numerous federal, state and local environmental laws including the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). In addition, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (the "EPA"), under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA"), as well as various state and local environmental protection agencies, regulate our handling and disposal of certain waste products and other materials. The EPA, under the Clean Air Act, also regulates the installation of catalytic converters by periodically spot checking repair jobs, and may impose sanctions, including but not limited to civil penalties up to $37,500 per violation (or up to $37,500 per day for certain willful violations or failures to cooperate with authorities), for violations of RCRA and the Clean Air Act.
Monro strives to maintain an environmentally and socially conscious corporate culture, giving back our time, talent and financial resources however we can. This is demonstrated by our recycling policies at our offices, warehouses and stores and our support of charitable organizations dedicated to caring for the communities and neighborhoods we serve. In fiscal 2020, Monro recycled approximately 3.2 million gallons of oil and 3.9 million tires, as well as approximately 87,000 vehicle batteries and 850 tons of cardboard, all as part of our commitment to the environment. Further, Monro and its employees donated to a number of charities during fiscal 2020, including over $230,000 to the United Way. The United Way, which directly improves lives by mobilizing people and resources to advance the common good, has always been our primary charitable focus. The Company and employees participate in the annual United Way campaign in Rochester, NY, our corporate headquarters, as well as in many other communities where we do business.
Although our business is not highly seasonal, customers do purchase more undercar service during the period of March through October than the period of November through February, when miles driven tend to be lower. In the tire stores, the better sales months are typically May through August, and October through December. The slowest months are typically January through April and September. As a result, profitability is typically lower during slower sales months, or months where mix is more heavily weighted toward tires, which is a lower margin category. Additionally, since our stores are primarily located in the northeastern and midwestern United States, profitability tends to be lower in the winter months when certain costs, such as utilities and snow plowing, are typically higher.
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