Continuing just-auto’s series of interviews at the 2015 Equip Auto show, Matthew Beecham met with Olivier Legrand, Vice President Aftermarket EMEA, Federal-Mogul Motorparts. Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ light vehicle aftermarket brands include ANCO wiper blades; Champion spark plugs and Ferodo brakes.
How is your European aftermarket business shaping-up this year?
It has been an interesting year. After years of stagnation, the engine business is growing. Our braking and steering businesses are performing well, too. We are currently in a transitional phase following the takeover of the Honeywell friction business. It has been a major challenge to transition Bendix into Federal-Mogul Motorparts for the French market. The Bendix name has disappeared. We are growing although not as much as expected.
How is your Champion spark plug aftermarket business performing?
Champion spark plugs are currently in the relaunching phase now. We are benefitting from our OE technology at our factory in Chazelles, France, and all of our aftermarket Champion spark plugs use this leading edge technology.
What about your wipers business?
Our wipers aftermarket is performing well in western Europe but not so good in eastern Europe, specifically the Russian market. That is partly due to the fact that we recently changed the way we go to market in Russia. Instead of exporting, we have localised this business through a warehouse and invoice in local currency.
What is the main message that you would like to put out here at the Equip Auto show?
We have three main messages. First, we are a multi-specialist. That means when we offer a product, we have the OE pedigree behind it. Second, we are continually innovating. While most of our products are commodities, we were the first to market with OE copper-free brake pads. Third, we help our customers at the installer level by informing them about the merits of our strong brands, what distinguishes them from the rest as well as how to fit each one. For example, we carry out tests on our brake products which demonstrate the stopping distances superior to other products, This further helps the installer sell the safety aspect to the motorist.
The majority of motorists still rely heavily on garages and physical retailers for their maintenance needs. So how do you engage these customers digitally?
There are approximately 15,000 installers across France. As we cannot visit them daily, we reach them though the internet. But when we do visit the installer, we talk about the product itself, how to fit and use the product and the power of the brand.
In what ways do you expect to increase your product market share in, say, wiper blades here in Europe?
In western Europe, we are operating in a flat market. So as we want to grow, we must take market share from our competitors not only in the wipers market but across our product range. That is the main driver in all our product businesses. The best way to achieve that is to improve and increase awareness of all brands by getting the levels of coverage and support correct.
Looking at the distribution channels in Europe, what are the big changes you are seeing at the moment?
While we see the web dealers taking some market share, the OES side of the market appears to be stagnating. The most striking feature is the consolation amongst the distribution groups. This consolidation of larger customers puts more pressure on us to provide a greater level of support.