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Date: 10 September 2013

Should you deck out your fleet with winter tyres now while the going's good, leave it until the winter or not bother at all? Jack Carfrae finds out.
More grooves equals more captured snow in the crevices, equals more rubber on road and better grip.

Harsh winter weather can hamper a business's ability to get on the road and is therefore a threat to the bottom line. But one solution to ensure that a company continues to make a profit in poor conditions is to consider the use of winter tyres.

They have been increasingly talked about and bought into in recent times, largely off the back of perceived tougher conditions and, while it isn't yet the time to be reaching for scarves and gloves, is now the time you need to be weighing up your options for a winter tyre package?

If the worst-case scenario is to be believed, you may have already missed the boat. In an ideal world, fleet operators would tee them up much earlier in the year, as head of technical policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, Tim Shallcross, explains: "They really need to be thinking about it a bit earlier because tyre manufacturers assess the market in late spring."

Dave Crinson, national sales manager for car fleets at Michelin, also thinks fleets need to act sooner rather than later: "People should be thinking about them from the previous winter. We have to produce and fit them so we really need the order by March.

"It's sometimes tricky to get them, particularly if they're rare sizes or on big, posh cars. Somebody coming in [with a fleet order] now would struggle to get them, and that's not just the case with us, it applies to all the other tyre companies as well."

That said, tyre firms aren't naive enough to assume that every business car operator is going to be on the ball enough to book their next batch of winter rubber six months before they need it. Ordering early is preferable, particularly if your fleet has specialist requirements, but if more conventional types and sizes of tyre are required, then it should be possible to get hold of them towards the end of the year, as the weather turns.