On August 22, AM reported that as many as half of the UK's top dealer groups were planning to launch all-makes wholesale replacement parts businesses – or superfactors – designed to take on the independent sector. The news followed a survey into dealer strategies conducted by AM and Castrol.
The tag “superfactor” was coined by Vauxhall's aftersales director, Paul Daly, in a speech at April's AM/Sewells aftermarket conference. Although Daly said some assumptions about block exemption would be proved false – such as the expectation that large numbers of independent garages would join approved repairer chains – he suggested there was major potential for a new breed of superfactor selling parts across the market.
“This will not signal the end of the independent motor factor,” says Vince Clisham, marketing manager for Motaquip. “These factors exist because dealers cannot satisfy the market. The block exemption changes to the market will not make that any easier for dealers.
“There is no sign that large numbers of independent garages are preparing to join approved repairer networks. If dealers were so keen to get into wholesale parts sales, they could have done it before.
“The basic truth is that they are not very good at it, and the current factor sector satisfies the marketplace. Garages get a good service as things are, with the right quality of parts at the right time.”
However, some aftermarket experts believe factors will have to compete against dealer wholesale operations. Sewells' aftermarket consultant Chris Oakham, who helped compile the survey, says: “Big dealer groups are preparing to attack the parts wholesaling market with some force. Although there are many false rumours and assumptions about who will gain from the aftermarket under block exemption, one rumour is true – and that's the development of superfactors.
“Dealer groups are developing major all-makes spare parts warehouses across the country. Around half of all the major dealer groups are looking at this.”