Strained by COVID-19, BBS files for insolvency

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A 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package sports Magnesium BBS wheels, the multi-spoke staple of tracks all around the world. RM Sotheby’s

BBS GmbH has filed for insolvency in Germany, citing “sudden omission of payments” and pointing to the collapse in aftermarket parts sales during COVID-19.

The news comes at the end of a long recovery period for the racing wheel company, which was founded in 1970 and went bankrupt in 2007, when its foray into higher-volume, lower-cost wheels was met with heated competition from Chinese importers. The tooling costs required by BBS’ new agenda proved astronomical, and the firm was eventually taken over by Punch International, a Belgium holding company. BBS became insolvent by 2011, however, and sought protection again after another failed restructuring. In 2015, the business was purchased by another faceless holding group, South Korea’s NICE Holdings, which brings us to today.

Until this year, all external signs have pointed to BBS having a relatively stable ride, including a new distribution and advertising relationship with Turn 14 at major trade shows like SEMA and PRI. Then came 2020. As the pandemic continues to choke personal budgets tight and restrict car events, sales of aftermarket parts have slowed to a crawl.

Is this the end of BBS? Probably not. In today’s era, if the brand name alone packs enough cache, somebody will buy up the assets and pump out more parts—but take a look at the magazine publishing industry to see how well that revolving door of ownership works (hint: poorly).

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