Halfords has ramped up its share of the Â£9 billion car aftermarket by buying the UKâ€™s largest independent service, repair and MOT chain.
The retail empire announced its Â£72.3 million purchase of Nationwide Autocentres from Phoenix Equity Partners to the city this morning.
Phoenix acquired Nationwide in February 2006 alongside the senior management team: Duncan Wilkes, CEO, Bull Duffy, COO, Andy Stevens, CFO and Mark Taylor, commercial director.
Since then, the chainâ€™s turnover has increased by 30 percent to some Â£97 million and profitability is up by 75 percent.
Duncan Wilkes and Bill Duffy will now join Halfords with Nationwide.
Halfords already operates a bulbs, blades and batteries fitting service as well as a Scratch, Chip & Dent body repair service at its 446 retail outlets in the UK.
Its existing car maintenance portfolio together with cycling contributes some 60 percent of the companyâ€™s total revenues.
Halfords now takes ownership of Nationwideâ€™s 224 workshops across the UK and will rebrand them Halfords Autocentres.
The company also plans to double the size of the network, with 80 new sites expected to open within the next three years.
It says the additional autocentres will create around 1000 new jobs.
David Wild, Halfords CEO, said the expansion into the car servicing and repair market is a logical move:
â€œCar maintenance is a large and highly attractive sector where there is increasing demand from motorists for reliable service at affordable prices.
â€œWe have grown strongly in this market through the provision of expert advice and our “wefit” services, and Halfords Autocentres will complement our retail business closely.”