Divyesh Kamdar invites CAT to tour Comline Auto Parts’ HQ in Luton
Today marked a red- letter day on the Comline calendar as the firm prepared to receive the prestigious Queen’s Award For Enterprise: International Trade 2016.
It is undeniable that the past four years have notably been the firm’s strongest yet in terms of export and trade opportunities with sales now reaching over 20 countries in Europe and 40 countries worldwide. Since 2012 the company has trebled its oversees earnings and ranked in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table as one of the private companies with the fastest- growing international sales over a two year period. The acquisition of Motaquip from PSA in 2014 also helped contribute to the company’s expansion plans and recent appointment. Managing Director, Divyesh Kamdar explained: “Comline continues to enjoy considerable success here in the UK, but our export growth over the past four years has been nothing short of staggering”.
Like the other companies in the issue that have received the Award, the ceremony follows a similar pattern: The firm receiving the Award, plus guests are assembled in the largest space available, the Lord Lieutenant turns up, often accompanied by the local mayor and other council dignitaries and after making a speech and reading a proclamation, a rose bowl is handed to the head of the company along with the right to use the Queen’s mark for the following five years.
This was the case on our visit, with Her Majesty’s Lord Left Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis handing the bowl to Divyesh Kamdar. “What a moment this is for everyone associated with Comline” said Kamdar. “We are incredibly proud to be a British company, and I can think of no greater honour than receiving such an important accolade directly from HM The Queen”.
We were interested to have a look around and see what the company had been doing to earn the gong for export. We met Dr Keith Ellis, Director of Braking Product Development,who provided an overview of the in-house technical centre: “This is a facility we put together in the last 18 months because we needed some technical capability actually on site” he told us, while showing some of the equipment. Ellis also mentioned that the team perform rigorous testing on their manufactured products making sure they are of high quality before being boxed up and distributed to workshops.
After exiting the test centre, we took a tour of the 175,000 sq ft. facility containing long aisles of Comline’s wares. Divyesh elaborated: “Our biggest and fastest selling line is filtration which represents 40 per cent of the business, braking 40 per cent and all of our other products represent 20 per cent” Divyesh elaborated: “Filtration is our strongest product group because in that mid-market segment we have 2,500 part numbers. We rank high because there aren’t many other players in this segment”.
Ishan Kamdar, Comline’s Business Development Director, explained that the acquisition of Motaquip proved to be a logistical challenge following the acquisition of that company from Peugeot in December 2014, with the stock
having to be transferred from the French firm over to Luton during the Christmas break, something that turned out to be ‘fun and games’ for the first months of 2015.
Acquiring the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is only the beginning as the firm has many business ventures ahead to continue as one of the larger aftermarket distributors of European, Korean and Japanese parts. “We will be re-launching a couple of product groups, clutch kits as well as a range of new wheel bearing kits at the Automechanika Frankfurt show” said Divyesh, “We will continue our European expansion with France and Germany being our key target areas and increasing the importance of the eastern European countries that we still don’t serve”.
For those of you attending the Frankfurt show can visit the Comline stand in Hall Five to find out about its newest product lines or discuss any business opportunities with its team of professionals. Divyesh concluded: “We’re also planning to go to the Automechanika Moscow show to have a look and see if we can start up any trade opportunities there. As far as the UK’s concerned about Comline, with our raised profile and the fact we provide value, we hope the buying groups will take us more seriously as we go forward”.