Benelux, the testbed
If sales of new vehicles are recovering no quicker in Benelux than elsewhere in Europe (down 2% vs. 2022 in the Netherlands and down 8% in Belgium November YTD), the parc remains an interesting case for aftermarket players to study and test.
There is high average mileage (12,300 km in the Netherlands and 15,348 km in Belgium), but above all a large company car fleet which exceeds 50% in both countries. Most of these vehicles are in one of two groups, those less than 3 years old and those over 15 years old.
The result is an attractive testbed for inde- pendent aftermarket players eager to try out their innovative garage concepts and the digitisation of sales. According to LKQ, 97% of orders are now made online in the Netherlands and Belgium.
It is therefore no coincidence that the European leaders are jostling for position. The latest player to boost its presence is the German Wessels+Muller, which has seven warehouses in the Netherlands and plans to open two additional sites in 2023. Enough for observers to say that WM (€1.7 billion in global turnover) could shake up the top three in independent parts distribution in Benelux by 2025.
Article produced with the help of our Dutch colleagues at Aftersales Magazine.
A streamlined AAG Benelux makes waves
After the Netherlands, it is Belgium that the European n°2 is tackling. The plan includes strengthening its position and rationalizing its image under the PartsPoint brand.
In 2021, AAG Benelux consolidated its Dutch positions around PartsPoint with around a hundred sites. There were notable acquisitions and the launch of the Precisium brand. Although it is probably not at the end of its development in the Netherlands, the group also concentrated its efforts in Belgium in 2022 where it has only around thirty subsidiaries, including the takeover of the distributor Theuwissen. This compares to around a hundred in the Netherlands. In addition to expanding its footprint, Alliance Automotive Group has just unified its Brezan Autoparts brands, which are also moving to PartsPoint. AAG is therefore accelerating in Belgium and is unlikely to stop there.
The logical consolidation in Benelux of AAG/PartsPoint has still made waves. Ensuring their concern for independence was made clear, this was one of the arguments used by the independent cooperative group Allparts (created in 2021 within Groupauto Nederland) to secede. Last October the distributors constituting the independent part of the group, with a turnover of €250 million, left the ship to tie up with Nexus Automotive. AAG cannot ignore the fact that Allparts made most of its purchases at LKQ Fource, enough to make both sides unhappy.
LKQ Benelux now a two-thirds subsidiary
It is almost ten years since LKQ arrived in Benelux with the acquisition in 2013 of Van Heck Interpieces. In 2017, they dethroned Doyen as leader for parts distribution.
Since then, they have continued to strengthen their position mainly through external growth. But they have had to adapt to the local customs of the independent federations. This hybrid approach means that it can today generate €750 million in business with €200 million in Belgium through 22 subsidiaries and €550 million in the Netherlands, two-thirds of which is achieved via the 92 integrated sites and the rest with independents. If the network is generally satisfactory, LKQ Benelux is keeping any eye on “four important Dutch distributors who interest us”. And it is of course Fource, its powerful logistics tool, “that delivers to everyone” that LKQ is counting on for continued growth.
API – Autodistribution: Doyen grows on two fronts
Since 2019 and the creation of Autodistribution Benelux, Doyen has operated through both the API and Autodistribution brands to create a coherent network between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The arrival of the Autodistribution brand on previous API territory in Belgium needed a clear explanation. There was no question of replacement, rather a complementary presence. This message was eventually received by the Bel- gian partners. “The network that brings the two brands together is underway” says Patrice Astor, CEO of Doyen. Today, 65 API and already around twenty Autodistribution sites cover Belgium. This mix is completed successfully with around forty AD garages and the “historic” 1,2,3 AutoService and Requal sites, bringing the network to 350 garages. The metamorphosis was more radical in the Netherlands. “All the 25 distributors wanted to become Autodistribution Nederland.
Similarly, 40 Requal garages took AD branding.” The strength of a leader – “We remain Doyen, not in a process of integration” – but also the expansion of the toolbox for the brands and via the API Drive concept. This provides access to data, a hotline, training and remote diagnosis (the first to launch it in Belgium) with Grup Eina and an electric concept. “While a few months ago, our challenge was to harmonize Doyen across our four territories, now we have a shared base that respects the particularities of each market. This all helps in terms of commercial development” insists Patrice Astor.