Nationwide Autocentres has increased its network significantly following the purchase of sites from Kwik Fit, the fast fit chain. The move is part of the firm's drive for fleet business, but may also enable the company to contest for authorized repair work from the vehicle manufacturers. Nationwide Autocentres, the independent garage chain, has acquired 54 outlets from fast fit giant Kwik Fit. The centers represented around half of Kwik Fit's Stop n Steer network, which focuses on more technical work, and will increase Nationwide's network from 141 to 195 outlets.

The new outlets will add around GBP12 million to Nationwide's annual revenues, enabling the company to reach a turnover of more than GBP50 million in 2003. The centers will be rebranded next month, accompanied by training and marketing initiatives.

The majority of the sites are in the North West and the West Midlands. Ten of the outlets will be shared with Kwik Fit, with Nationwide handling the servicing and technical repair operations while Kwik Fit offers fast-fit services.

Kwik Fit was acquired by CVC Capital Partners in August last year for GBP330 million, and is now shedding some of its non-core sites.

Nationwide has previously managed to turn around the loss-making autocentres business it bought from Lex two years ago. Nationwide said that the business was now soundly profitable and stable. It also said that it could not rule out further acquisitions.

This latest acquisition strengthens Nationwide's prospects in several key areas. In particular, the enlarged network will enable the firm to acquire more fleet business, an area that remains a focus for the aftermarket. While the margins per job are generally lower than in servicing privately owned vehicles, the volumes are high. Nationwide expects its fleet turnover to increase to over GBP10 million his year.

In addition, Nationwide is clearly hoping to win authorized repairer status, taking advantage of the changes to the industry's block exemption that come into force in October. This will allow the company to compete for authorized repair work from the vehicle manufacturers.

SOURCE: DATAMONITOR COMMENTWIRE (c) 2003 Datamonitor. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent. Datamonitor shall not be liable for errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.