The Wolk After Sales Experts team and their guest speakers took the audience of Aftermarket Forum 2019: Going global! into a journey through 5 continents and many regions with a common theme of the automotive aftermarket. It is not every day one even industry professionals can really appreciate the truly global nature of today’s “one world economy”.  

Back in the 19th century – and way before even the car was invented – Jules Verne envisaged the journey around the world will take 80 days. Fast forward almost 150 years into the future and almost 160 guests of the Aftermarket Forum 2019: Going global! could almost cover the same distance without even moving out of the comfort of Marriott hotel in downtown of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. The venue location has not been chosen at random. Far from it – just across the street there is the complex of Frankfurter Messe, home to Automechanika trade fair where every two years approx. 4000 automotive aftermarket companies from around the world meet. Frankfurt am Main is also the business heart of Germany – a country whose success is intertwined both with the automotive industry and global presence.

Since the first edition of Aftermarket Forum in 2017, our aim is to provide our guest the access to new information relevant to their daily business activities and a good opportunity for networking” – explains Zoran Nikolic, Managing Director at Wolk After Sales Experts. For this very reason, the Aftermarket Forum 2019 started with an evening Come-Together event. The special guest of that night was Jack Walsh from Jefferies who brilliantly allowed the audience to take a look at the automotive aftermarket through the eyes of venture capital. What is today’s reality in the US, it very well may be in real in Europe tomorrow as the consolidation is still far from over?

Into the journey…

Next day the Forum kicked off with Zoran Nikolic’s, presentation about trends in Europe for the next 10 years. Marcelo Gabriel, Head of Market Research and Business Intelligence of CINAU gave the audience valuable insights about the South American market. “70% of cars on this continent are in Brasil and Argentina. On the one hand, it means those 2 countries are enough to establish a strong presence on the continent, but at the same time present unique challenges. 63% of cars in Brasil are flex-fuel – can be fuelled either by gasoline or ethanol. Because the source of ethanol is readily available, electric vehicles won’t be present there before 2035” – said Marcelo Gabriel.

Mike Yu, General Manager at iRM eCommerce, then took the task of explaining to the audience the complex system of parts distribution in China that is heavily influenced by local big tech companies. Between China and Europe, there is Russia. Sergey Udalov, Managing Director and co-owner of Autostat, navigated guests through the influence of local currency which has significantly lost value since 2014 and how it is affecting car parts sales, and the fact the 80% of Russian car parc was produced domestically.

Meanwhile, in India, it’s all about motorbikes, which are sold by 20 mio. units per year. The sub-continents economy is heavily dependent on local monsoon patterns and the structure of aftermarket is unlike anywhere else. “Everywhere else at the end of the line there’s always a garage. In India there are also roadside mechanic teams working just on the streets and quite proficient at their job. At the same time there are around 3.000 independent top car garages, with 3, 4 or more bays, some with a proper paint and body area, many able to do premiums cars. They are eager for diagnostics, technical training, hotline, parts identification and CI/branding. They would be “dreaming” of some kind of daily parts delivery… One of many chances for some international players to tackle in India” – explained Dirk Schlage, President of Hemps Project & Management.

…of new opportunities

During main Aftermarket Forum 2019 event, we’ve revisited the United States, taking a closer look at the consolidation processes there that are ongoing for decades. What’s the end goal here? “Total vertical integration” – didn’t hesitate to answer Bill Burns, recently retired CEO of Independent Warehouse Distributors. Next stop was in the Middle East, where it was all about shedding preconceptions. “Not everyone realizes 88,5% of people currently living in the United Arab Emirates are… expats” – said Ralf Zimmermann, Managing Director at Al-Futtaim Group. Also, Gulf Coast Countries are not only about oil – the automotive aftermarket players there are family businesses with quite often 50 years and 3 generations of history, currently expanding into Africa. Speaking of which, Marc Zander, Partner & CEO at africon, stated it is the last market in the world with a sizable opportunity: “And maybe, more importantly, one of the last traditional markets. It means there will be no electric vehicles in the foreseeable future as access to power is still a problem in most African countries. While in Europe the traditional automotive industry is projected to decline, there’s still significant growth potential in Africa”.

The journey ended in South-East Asia. According to Devindran Ramanathan, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at ACS ASIAPAC, Malaysia stands out of this region as a highly motorized country. The Independent Aftermarket there is quite developed. “Quite often the quick access to repair and maintenance information is provided by freelancing Europeans remotely in this digitalized world, but still there’s a huge demand for expertise and support for IAM garages. Also great opportunities presents itself to foreign automotive companies wishing to have a launchpad to the World’s most populous region,” said Devindran Ramanathan.

The next Aftermarket Forum will take place in April 2020. “With topic and venue to be disclosed soon, we are already looking forward to future editions of our event that has already secured its place in the calendars of automotive industry professionals. Within 3 years the Aftermarket Forum was able to focus the attention of key independent aftermarket players and this is a testament of our expertise as providers of understandable market insights in a data flooded world” – summarized Antti Wolk, Managing Director at Wolk After Sales Experts.

The Aftermarket Forum 2019 was also a stepping stone for Wolk After Sales Experts to create a network of experts with the aim of providing clients with market research, studies and insights on truly global scale.

Photos in full resolution can be downloaded here.