Tag Archive | "parts alliance"

THE ALLIANCE IS SET TO GROW

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THE ALLIANCE IS SET TO GROW


You wouldn’t guess that Neil Croxson, the new(ish) CEO of the Parts Alliance had spent his earlier career in finance, because whenever we asked about money, he steered the conversation onto the subject of people.

“The job isn’t just about selling parts, I sit on the IAAF committee and I love working with suppliers and customers. There are just so many great characters,” he said, referring to GSF founder Stan West and Andrew Page, son of the founder of the once-mighty factor chain, itself a founder member of the original Parts Alliance buying group, before it left to follow its own path.

“When I agreed to follow on from Peter [Sephton, the previous CEO of the Parts Alliance] probably 90 percent of the decision was about people and the kind of people that I want to work with,” he added. “I have so much respect for these men and women. So it’s an industry about people and very fine detail.”

The ‘fine detail’ he refers to is the delicate balance of running a motor factor chain that is capable of making a profit, but can also deliver the range and service levels demanded by garages. Keeping stock levels right and then being able to get the parts to garages as fast as possible is essential to make sure the opposition don’t get the order, but the biggest cost that factors face is actually getting the part to the technician.

READ: CROXSON REPLACES SEPHTON AT THE PARTS ALLIANCE

It’s for this reason that we met Croxon in ‘Midpoint’, a newly acquired central warehouse that acts as a hub across the Parts Alliance’s various sub-brands. The place is large, though not off-the-scale huge. Rather, the building has been set up to make the most of its internal dimensions in order to house 120,000 different stock references. During our visit, the place was a hive of activity, with staff picking stock by barcode at great speed. The racks were full of all the brands stocked by the business, of course, but we were struck by the number of braking products under the Drivetec house brand there were in stock, and most of them sporting the re-imaged packaging.

“It’s a major investment we’ve made in our logistics,” said Croxson, noting that it would be hard to serve the customers without having warehouses filled with products. “GSF has always had a distribution centre of course, so we are just down the road from where it is set up. Central distribution isn’t entirely new to us”.

Perhaps it’s surprising that the Parts Alliance didn’t already have a central distribution hub, as such. After all, it was over six years ago that private equity firm Hg Capital bought the group out and began acquiring the independent chains that were once its members.

The hub is only a part of getting the maximum efficiency into every parts order. “We’re looking constantly at ways in which we can improve our processes, because if we can be more efficient, in the end it is of benefit to the garage,” said Croxson. “Keeping the garage at the forefront of our thinking is absolutely critical.”

READ: PARTS ALLIANCE OPENS NEW BRANCHES

This efficiency involves a mixture of local conditions and telemetry: “Are we routing the vans as cleverly as we can given the local traffic conditions?” wonders Croxson. “It isn’t just a case of sitting down with a map and looking at driving from one place to another. For example, many towns have a river running through them, which means there will be a bridge in the town centre where the traffic doesn’t move. It’s understanding nuances like that which will make the difference.”

“We will use telemetry to map what’s happening with the vehicles and where they are,” he added. “Technology is a huge part of our future as an industry and we’re using that technology to improve what we do. People have got used to things like the Uber app, where they can see where their taxi is, so there is no reason why we can’t do the same to see where our vans are. That technology exists to help us work more efficiently. I think the technology will become a bigger player as we go forward.”

However, it isn’t technology that will be the biggest capital spend in 2020. At a time when other chains are consolidating, the Parts Alliance is plotting expansion. “The major investment in the business will be the continued expansion of our network,” explains Croxson, adding that the firm opened a ‘jaw-dropping’ 13 branches in 2018, and another five this year. “We’re a national player, we cover most of the corners of the UK now,” he said.

At the heart of this expansion drive is the scale needed to compete at a national level. “The objective is to be able to offer our services to every garage across the country. Croxson said: “Everywhere you look on the map, there are still opportunities where we can’t provide that service to customers.” Creating a network that is truly national will, he believes, gain customer loyalty through reduced lead times. This is particularly important in a consolidating marketplace.

“The fact that there’s continued consolidation in the market recognises that what we’ve been doing is the right approach,” he said. “The market is going to change. Tech is a bigger player, driving habits are changing and cars have extended service intervals. There are changing dynamics in the marketplace and there is a need for scale. There is also a need for our customers to have scale in order to manage that.”

To plug this gap, the company needs to look beyond the mixed spread of the original buying group to fill shelf space in areas where local garages may not even be aware of the Parts Alliance or its members. Asked whether this would be achieved through acquisition or new build, Croxson replied: “We’re open to whatever opportunities are available,” adding that mapping the country had allowed them to ‘pinpoint’ where branches are required, suggesting that opening on fresh sites will be the way ahead.

One significant acquisition in 2014 was a number of branches in the South West of England picked up from the receiver following the collapse of Unipart Automotive. These branches filled a wide gap in coverage and were a significant step in the firm’s ambitions to operate right across the nation. Reusing the Unipart name wasn’t an option, meaning they were simply branded ‘Parts Alliance Southwest’. Bringing these branches into the network also meant the group was able to rehire some of the highly experienced staff from Unipart, including Paul Dineen who became Regional Business Director following the takeover.

The Unipart acquisitions were possible as at that time the Parts Alliance was owned by private equity firm Hg Capital, a decision with which Croxson, then Finance Director, was heavily involved. Given what happened to Andrew Page and others, it would be reasonable to say that the aftermarket has had mixed experiences with PE firms, but Croxson remains positive about the group’s time under Hg’s ownership. “I think private equity can have a bad name from its propensity to dip in and out” he said. “Hg Capital came in and stuck to their plan and they put their money behind it. I mean, 2014 was a difficult year for the industry.”

Croxson explained that ‘private equity’ is a catch-all term for any private money, and the strings attached will be controlled by different people with differing agendas depending on who you work with. “Any PE house is representing a set of investors. You really want to know what a PE is up to when they buy into a company. You really want to look into their funds and what they’re investing for,” he explained. “If a PE house is investing pension fund monies, then they might be more interested in turning an income stream than in turning a company and making a fast buck. Hg came in with an idea that there were a lot of independent motor factors out there. They saw that there were all these members of the Parts Alliance that were all independent, and they thought that there could be strength in bringing them together and there could be value in doing so, and they made their money out of doing so. It was good private equity”.

Hg sold the business to Canada-based parts distributor Uni Select in 2018, which displays a similar appetite for expansion, and according to Croxson has been very supportive of projects such as modernising central distribution.

However, it’s worth pointing out that the Parts Alliance, though a buying group in itself, is itself a member of larger buying group (or ‘global trading platform’ as they prefer to be called), Nexus International. Uni Select isn’t a member of any buying group so has a different sourcing strategy. This hasn’t been a problem though. “There’s a difference between the UK and the North American market. There are different vehicles on the road and different suppliers in those markets,” said Croxson.

Whoever the ultimate owner is, it seems the Parts Alliance and its people have a clear vision of the company’s future.

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REACHING MORE CUSTOMERS

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REACHING MORE CUSTOMERS


Divisional Director Steve Gray discusses the next steps for the Parts Alliance’s new SCMF branch in Croydon.

A full range is now stocked

Last month, the Parts Alliance opened two branches: namely an SAS Autoparts store in Newcastle and SCMF in Croydon. Well, that got us thinking that we have never actually been to a branch of the factor properly known as Southern Counties Motor Factors, so we jumped on the bus to South London to see if it is similar to other branches of the Parts Alliance.

On arrival, everything seems to be running efficiently as the firm’s delivery drivers set off on their early morning runs to nearby workshops and motor factors. Inside, the warehouse follows an accessory shop format with a trade counter situated at the back with well- known car care, tool and retail brands stacked against the centre walls. A sales office is also featured next door, where staff could be heard rattling phones and dealing with customer calls on our arrival.

MANAGEMENT
SCMF Divisional Director Steve Gray and Andy Rogers, SCMF’s South West Regional Business Director, accompanied us along with Branch Manager William Barrett who joins the team from his previous management post at Andrew Page in Croydon. Both Barrett and Rogers have extensive years of experience between them having worked in a range of senior roles within the supply-chain industry.

After getting acquainted, it was time to check out the warehouse. The design and structure is bright and modern, which was hard to envisage for Rodgers at the beginning, as he explained: “This building was just ‘bricks and mortar’ when it was acquired, however, we completely gutted the premises and installed a new roof, windows and reconfigured the entire layout”. Gray expands: “It went like clockwork”, he said. “It was a turnkey operation led by our project management team.”

For logistical purposes, bulk items such as Comma oil barrels have been allocated to aisles near the depot entrance in order to shift these wares to and from the site without hassle. Gray added a general point regarding deliveries: “We receive up to four deliveries of stock throughout the day from our local distribution hub in Sidcup. The main focus for us is on fast moving parts, and we have good traction on those”.

Racking was installed in double-quick time

Meanwhile, PA brand DriveTec brake discs occupied the central aisles in the new black, red and white packaging, launched in Q4 last year. In addition, the ground f loor contained filtration products from the likes of Mann Filter, plus a comprehensive clutch portfolio from major players including Sachs and LuK, stretched across the shop floor.

The upstairs mezzanine consisted of exhaust products, which were hanging up in a tidy formation, while more DriveTec branded wares could be found in the form of wiper blades. Other PA core product lines included Monroe shock absorbers and Shaftec steering and suspension parts awaiting distribution. “We opened the warehouse with 16,000 SKUs and we’ve got 50 per cent mezzanine so it’s easy to extend” notes Gray. He adds that the facility has been built in a ‘modular way with an extension pre-planned in mind’, that will be constructed along the top floor without fear of disrupting day-to-day operations.

NEXT PHASE
The Croydon site currently employs 12 staff, but the firm is now on a recruitment drive to fill more positions within its sales and warehousing departments, following expansion. Another objective for the team is to gradually increase its f leet of vans and motorcycles in particular, to bypass traffic disruptions around the area. Gray expands: “We opened SCMF Croydon with six vans, but we’re increasing this and our bike fleet because the traffic is quite bad here. As with our current fleet, we will continue to deliver within a three to four mile radius”. Motorbikes are a popular way of getting parts delivered along the Capital’s notoriously congested roadmap.

As with other Parts Alliance brands, there is a plan in place to open more SCMF branches.

Gray mentions they will be announced in good time once suitable building sites have been sourced. We will certainly drop by some of these locations as and when they’re confirmed, but for now, it’s business as normal for the team at SCMF.

Posted in Accessories, Batteries, Braking, Car Care, Clutches, Exhausts, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer News, Shock Absorbers, Spark Plugs, Steering & Suspension, Tools, WipersComments (1)

BREAKING: THE PARTS ALLIANCE ACQUIRES BBC SUPERFACTORS

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BREAKING: THE PARTS ALLIANCE ACQUIRES BBC SUPERFACTORS


Business group The Parts Alliance has acquired long-term affiliate member BBC Superfactors.

The seven-branch chain was established thirty years ago by Gary Shulman and Peter Rostron and initially covered the Blackburn, Bury and Chorley areas, hence the name.

“Combining the dedication of our loyal staff team with the expertise of The Parts Alliance has proved to be a winning formula for us over several years,” said MD Gary Shulman.  “We’re excited to now strengthen this relationship to ensure our business continues to thrive long into the future.”

“Since joining The Parts Alliance in December 2012, BBC have posted consistent double-digit annual sales growth and have invested to achieve industry-leading service levels. We are very pleased to welcome our BBC colleagues in the team,” stated Peter Sephton, President and CEO, European Automotive Group.

File pic of team at Blackburn branch

“This acquisition strengthens our position in the UK market and underlines The Part Alliance’s capability of driving growth both organically and through acquisitions,” added Henry Buckley, President and CEO of the PA’s Canadian parent company, Uni-Select.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Latest News, News, special newsComments (0)

BREAKING: PARTS ALLIANCE SOLD TO UNI-SELECT

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BREAKING: PARTS ALLIANCE SOLD TO UNI-SELECT


BREAKING: The following release comes directly from The Parts Alliance

The Parts Alliance Group has been acquired from its private equity owner HgCapital by Uni-Select Inc., a Canadian publicly listed, North American Automotive aftermarket distributor.

New owners Uni-Select operate as a market-leader in the USA and Canada, distributing automotive aftermarket parts, equipment and refinish products through a network of 14 distribution centres, 270 corporate stores and over 1,100 independent wholesalers with 3,000 employees generating sales of $1.2 billion USD per annum.

The Parts Alliance, through a series of 10 acquisitions since 2012 has grown to become a market- leader by investing in people and technology and putting their customers first

“This has been a fantastic journey, building a market leader in just over 4 years through 10 acquisitions and consistently strong organic growth,” said Peter Sephton.  “I and our management team would like to thank HgCapital for all their support as our 2,900 colleagues look forward to continuing that journey with Uni-Select, helping build a great international autoparts business together with the Uni-Select leadership team.”

The Parts Alliance emphasise that for customers it’s very much ‘business as usual’ and look forward to working under trade owners with a deep understanding of the automotive aftermarket. The existing management team will continue to operate the business and Peter Sephton, Chief Executive of The Parts Alliance, will join Uni-Select’s executive team while continuing his leadership role in the UK as President and CEO of the European business segment.

Uni-Select’s origins are similar to those of The Parts Alliance; Uni-Select . was founded in 1968 by 12 Québec businessmen who joined forces to form a purchasing group for aftermarket parts.  The business now trade as a listed company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: UNS).

“We are excited to establish a third growth pillar in the large UK parts aftermarket that is expected to be immediately accretive in a market with great upside potential from future consolidation opportunities. Parts Alliance is a great organization, with a market leadership position and national scale, a proven growth platform and an experienced management team that has demonstrated its ability to drive profitable growth both organically and through acquisitions,” said Henry Buckley, President and CEO of Uni-Select. “Our two companies are a perfect fit in terms of business profile, customer focus, entrepreneurial culture and commitment to people development.”

Martin Block, Partner, HgCapital, said: “We are delighted with the sale of this very special business to Uni-Select.  They will be a fantastic partner for the next phase of Parts Alliance’s continued growth and development.  As a buy and build in a fragmented and dynamic sector, our management team were able to create a business of scale and real capability through their drive, professionalism and determination. The Parts Alliance brings together a high-quality group of distinct brands with a common culture and local identity.  We wish both the team and the new owners every success for the future”.

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BMS SUPERFACTORS ACQUIRED BY PARTS ALLIANCE

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BMS SUPERFACTORS ACQUIRED BY PARTS ALLIANCE


Business group The Parts Alliance has acquired BMS Superfactors, their Greater Manchester-based associate member. BMS Superfactors has four branches in Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Dukinfield, collectively employing over 120 staff. Prior to the deal, BMS had been an associate member of the Parts Alliance.

Founded 25 years ago, BMS Superfactors begun as an accessory shop and has grown into a business completing 1,000 trade deliveries per day. Since joining The Parts Alliance in December 2012 it has posted double-digit annual sales growth.

“We’re delighted to be taking what seems a very natural next step with The Parts Alliance,” said Tony Parr, Managing Director of BMS. “Joining the group and gaining access to their OE parts ranges, outstanding AlliCat parts catalogue and overall business support has been central to our success to date.

Peter Sephton, Chief Executive of The Parts Alliance said:  “We welcome BMS Superfactors and all our new colleagues.

“The growth they have achieved bears powerful testament to the skills of the management team led by Tony Parr, Chris Morley and Neil Hardisty as well as the hard work of a loyal staff team. This important acquisition strengthens our group’s position in one of the UK’s prime metropolitan areas.

“Chris and Neil will continue to run the business, whilst Tony will be available to help as necessary.

“We very much look forward to developing the business further under what’s a well regarded local brand by bringing more of our technology, distribution and sourcing capabilities to support Chris and his team wherever we can.”

BMS becomes a wholly-owned business within The Parts Alliance Group  but will continue to trade under its own name. Chris Morley will continue to lead the business and will be joined by Neil Hardisty on The Parts Alliance’s management team.

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GSF REPLACE 60 PERCENT OF VAN FLEET

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GSF REPLACE 60 PERCENT OF VAN FLEET


350 new vans for GSF in 2017

350 new vans for GSF in 2017

Factor chain GSF Car Parts has ordered 350 new vans to replace some of the older vehicles in its fleet in a deal valued at £3.5m

GSF has already taken delivery of 12 Peugeot Partner vans at its Birmingham head office but, during the course of 2017, will replace a total of 350 vehicles – representing some 60 percent of its UK fleet – across its nationwide network of 65 branches.

Following the takeover of the company by Hg-owned Parts Alliance in 2015, the management of the GSF fleet is being transferred into The Parts Alliance Group’s fleet team, under Steve Evans, Group Fleet Manager and Tony Shearer, Branch Operational Services Director.

“This is a major investment that will bring the GSF van fleet into line with our fleet policy for the rest of the group,” said Tony Shearer. “We generally work on a four to five year and 150,000 mile replacement cycle.”

The vehicles are being financed through fleet management firm Zenith and sourced though Robins and Day, a London dealer owned directly by Peugeot.

 

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WATERLOO ACQUIRED BY PARTS ALLIANCE

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WATERLOO ACQUIRED BY PARTS ALLIANCE


Waterloo Motor Factors has been acquired by private equity-backed business group The Parts Alliance. The East-Riding based business has branches in Hull, Beverley and Bridlington and was founded in 1928 by James Henry Munday.

It becomes a wholly-owned business within the HgCapital-owned Parts Alliance Group but will continue to trade under its own name. David Brooks, founder of SAS Autoparts will take over day-to-day running of the firm.

Current MD Jim Munday said: “As a three-generation family business, building long term relationships and providing quality local service are in our DNA. We look forward to working with (PA CEO) Peter Sephton and the rest of the management team to accelerate our growth in what are very exciting times for our trade.”

Peter Sephton said: “I’m delighted Jim Munday has agreed to work with us to facilitate the integration into The Parts Alliance and the transition of leadership to David Brooks, founder of SAS Autoparts, as we seek to extend our branch footprint and optimise our distribution and reach into the region”.

“Jim will continue to advise us on development projects and we are delighted to have Jim and his colleagues at Waterloo as part of our Group.”

The factor was previously a member of the IFA buying group. The change of ownership will see a number of different brands filling the stockroom.

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EXETER TRADE SHOW DRAWS LARGE CROWD


pa

Matt Neil shared stories

A very high turnout was recorded at a regional trade show organised by the Parts Alliance in Exeter.

The event was held in the function rooms of the Exeter Chiefs rugby club and had a variety of suppliers promoting their wares, running competitions and passing on fitting tips and best practice to technicians.

An added attraction was touring car driver Matt Neil who shared anecdotes about his career with the crowd throughout the evening. Exeter Chiefs’ and England forward Thomas Waldrom also gave special guest interviews with question and answer sessions to follow.

Visitors were mostly customers of branches in the South West. Most of these branches are former Unipart Automotive sites, which were simply re-branded as Parts Alliance.

Paul Dineen, Head of Garage Programmes at The Parts Alliance said: “To host a midweek evening event and attract so many people after the working day was a great achievement. It was also half- term so a number of owners brought their families
along too”.

“Huge credit goes to all the team who worked tirelessly to organise the evening and of course to the supporting suppliers and attending garage customers who made the effort to come along”.

The mix of suppliers included brands like Delphi, Yuasa, Valeo and Remy with the Angry Jester tools and equipment stand also doing brisk business on the night. Trade bodies such as The IMI, The Motor Ombudsman (which revealed it’s new logo at the show) and the IAAF were present, Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance and AA Garage Guide were also on hand to answer questions from technicians.

Appreciative customers included Jenny Hill from East Budleigh Garage, who said: “Thank you very much for a great evening. We all really enjoyed it!”.

Visiting garages gained some excellent value; a whole series of supplier ‘show special offers’ were supplemented by over £5,000 worth of prizes awarded on the night. These included an Android Tablet, Amazon Fire Stick, BTCC Tickets, a 50” Television and a free loan car for a year.

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500 ATTEND REGIONAL PARTS ALLIANCE SHOW


A very high turnout was recorded at a regional trade show organised by the Parts Alliance in Exeter.

The event was held in the function rooms of the Exeter Chiefs rugby club and had a variety of suppliers promoting their wares, running competitions and passing on fitting tips and best practice to technicians.

An added attraction was touring car driver Matt Neil who shared anecdotes about his career with the crowd throughout the evening.

Visitors were mostly customers of branches in the South West. Most of these branches are former Unipart Automotive sites, which were simply re-branded as Parts Alliance.

Paul Dineen, Head of Garage Programmes at The Parts Alliance said: “To host a midweek evening event and attract so many people after the working day was a great achievement. It was also half-term so a number of owners brought their families along too”.

“Huge credit goes to all the team who worked tirelessly to organise the evening and of course to the supporting suppliers and attending garage customers who made the effort to come along”.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Greg Whitaker's diary, News, UncategorisedComments (0)

SAS AUTOPARTS ACQUIRED BY PARTS ALLIANCE

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SAS AUTOPARTS ACQUIRED BY PARTS ALLIANCE


Peter Sephton

Parts Alliance Group CEO Peter Sephton

Business group The Parts Alliance has swelled its ranks with the acqusition of SAS Autoparts. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SAS was founded in 1960 and has branches in Harrogate, Otley, Skipton, Bradford, Castleford and Northallerton.

The Parts Alliance’s Chief Executive Peter Sephton said he was excited to be welcoming new colleagues from SAS to the HgCapital-backed group

‘’SAS Autoparts is a great business with outstanding customer and staff loyalty providing local service in the Yorkshire area and adds to our national strength’’ he said.

HgCapital continues to support The Parts Alliance with the acquisition of SAS, which will be a wholly owned business within The Parts Alliance Group but will continue to trade locally under its own brand name and will continue under Managing Director David Brooks and his current management team.

Peter Sephton added: “This is a great acquisition which strengthens our presence in the north while encouraging a common vision and culture, but retaining local brands, entrepreneurial spirit and customer focus.”

David Brooks said: “We are looking forward to working with Peter Sephton and the rest of the management team and developing and growing SAS into an even better business.”

 

 

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