In 1962, seven independent distributors decided to establish a purchasing center for auto parts in France. Syndicate then laid the foundation stone for the self-distribution edifice, a machine that contributed significantly to the structural development of the current spare parts distribution market in terms of logistics, repairs, trade and services. During the 1970s and 1980s, of course, the wholesale distributor business took hold, but the aftermarket world saw the emergence of new repair models at the same time, backed primarily by franchises, auto centers and American brands like Speedy or Midas.
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That’s when the idea to import these concepts arose. “They had every interest in continuing to work on the basics of purchasing while connecting a network of garages with their brand of independent distributors,” Supports Laurent Desrouffet. After launching its AD distribution brand at the dawn of its twentieth anniversary in 1981, the group opened its first multi-brand independent repair network with AD Pro (mechanical) and AD Top (bodywork) brands.
From the 1980s to the 2000s, these professionals tried to touch everything, even the industry. However, they know they are distracted and decide to stop this business. They also understand that light vehicles and heavy trucks have their own business and product characteristics that must be coordinated. After a long journey and new projects such as AD HGV Network, Autossimo Gateway, AutoPrimo Network, New Red Triangle Logo, Acquisition of Cora Logistics Platform, Truckissimo Gate, etc., The decision was made to separate the activities of VL and HGV to become a multidisciplinary distributor.
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2010 marks an important milestone for the group. A new form of governance emerges, being directed by VL and PL boards, composed equally of affiliates and independents, and reliant on business committees to foster collaborative work. The impetus for this was the creation of an association, Udiad for Autodistribution. She wants to be, even today, a relay among all the representatives of the group.
“Independent distributors no longer want to be considered at the end of the group. They have come together to fully integrate into the governance and participate in the life of the group to avoid a two-speed enterprise, where independents develop less quickly than subsidiaries,” We define. The model has remained since 2010 and is the soul of the group.“This board meets every two months and all major decisions regarding distributors pass through this body for a coherent and efficient deployment,” We add.
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Over the past ten years, Autodistribution’s growth has continued to accelerate: discipline purchasing, service delivery center, business specialization, new visual identity, logistics plan reorganization, etc. In 2014, the group strengthened its digital transformation by launching idgarages.com and ad.fr to offer online quotes and appointments. A year later, it overhauled its version entirely on the retail side, with the Audace store plan, whose main focus is fixing point-of-sale animations for distributors. Customer service is not neglected, however, and the C2As arrive: these are call centers dedicated to professionals (the distributor has one to two on average). News of automatic distribution is rich and dense. Until 2018, with the acquisition of the Glass Auto Service brand, for example, or the launch of its own paint brand, Autolux.
The list of solutions, tools, and other devices new or redesigned concepts would be too long to enumerate over the past four years. Automatic distribution is constantly evolving, or in search of details aimed at improving the daily lives of its distributors and repairers. “We have an increasingly successful model. At 60, the beautiful page of history is turning, and we are still part of the future,” Laurent Desrovet concludes. The numbers are really amazing. The automatic distribution generates an annual turnover of 1.5 billion euros, for 54 brands and 400 light vehicle sales outlets, 20 brands and 91 HGV outlets, 3,680 repair shops (1427 M mechanics, 763 M bodywork, 943 Auto Primo, 225 Staff Auto, and 327 Glass Auto Service) and more than 8,500 employees.