Manufacturers have required their franchised dealer networks to invest significant amounts in the latest technology in order to maintain and service their vehicles. Dealer networks can now reap the benefits of these investments as the sector becomes more competitive – but so can other aftermarket players such as ABS Bodyshop.

Much has been written about the changes that recent revisions in block exemption will bring and the first signs of the potential changes are now coming into view. ABS Bodyshop Services, the largest UK vehicle repair network with 220 outlets, has indicated that it will invite franchised dealers into its network to provide bodyshop services. The move is a clear sign that the new block exemption will yield positive results for several players in the automotive market, for which purpose it was of course intended.

ABS Bodyshop is likely to be one of the first of many companies to utilise the franchised dealer network in this way. The key attraction of the franchised dealer is the highly specialised machines and equipment that several of them have invested in to provide bodyshop and other services for their own make of cars. This equipment may now be utilised by third parties, benefiting both the franchised dealer and third-party involved. In fact, services need not be limited to their own car marque either.

Franchised dealers have invested significant amounts into sophisticated engine management and diagnostic equipment, which could also be used for vehicles that come via third parties, although the equipment could only be utilised for marques in which the franchised dealer specialises.

The potential gains from block exemption are significant for players across the aftermarket sector. Companies can look to expand their services by exploiting the range of opportunities now available, whether it is via bodyshops, franchised dealers or another third party. Whatever the case, as players start to work together more closely, the likely outcome will be a more efficient and competitive aftermarket industry.