“We need to be more visible – the Unipart brand is very powerful, but it's a sleeping giant,” says Unipart Automotive managing director Chris Etherington.
The first step was to launch the Unipart Automotive division in April, which incorporates the Brown Brothers and Partco businesses. The next action will be to make the Unipart name more conspicuous on the aftermarket parts it supplies, backed with advertising in the trade press.
Despite being the largest aftermarket supplier in the UK, Unipart still only has an eight per cent market share. “There are opportunities to increase this, but profit is what it is really all about,” says Etherington. He says the company has no plans to float, pointing out the benefits to remaining independent: “It enables us to plan long-term rather than satisfy the short-term demands of shareholders.”
Profits will be improved by Unipart getting closer to its customers. It intends to grow each of its divisions, winning business in the independent and franchised markets. Etherington acknowledges the need to get the basics right, such as parts quality, availability and price, and says there will some developments to the range later this year. “This year is going to be a busy one for Unipart as we develop our market position and our brand,” Etherington adds.