2017 marks 100 years since the first Andrew Page branch opened. Here, to mark the milestone, PMF looks back on the history of the company, talks about what’s to come in the future and speaks to an Andrew Page branch manager.
The company started life as Andrew Page & Son in 1917 as a wholesale motor factor based in Leeds, and was founded by the late Andrew Page. The firm primarily sold rugs, drivers’ coats, gloves, goggles, caps and boots, to cater for the fact the vehicles on the road were open topped, but it also sold tools and components such as spark plugs, horns and lights.
In 1946, after the Second World War, Andrew Page & Co Ltd was created by James Page, Andrew’s son and within a year the company became a Bosch distributor, the start of one of a number of long-standing partnerships that are still in existence today.
By 1957 the company was expanding and opened a second branch in Wakefield and a third, in Harrogate, six years later.
After completing a business course and then working for Bosch in Stuttgart, James Page’s son Andrew, joined the company in 1974 and it maintained rapid growth through the 80’s and 90’s before, in 1992, Andrew inherited control of the company from his father.
A flurry of new branches around the turn of the millennium took the total number of sites to 26 and this continued to grow throughout the noughties as Andrew Page expanded region by region.
In 2010 the company entered into a period of private equity ownership, which opened the door for further growth, particularly in the Midlands and to the South. In 2012, the acquisition of Camberley Auto Factors took the total number of branches up to 93.
The expansion prompted the need to open a new distribution centre, an impressive 100,000 sq ft site in Markham Vale, Derbyshire. The facility has excellent communication links with the UK motorway network and has a dedicated logistics team that has grown in-line with the company’s expansion programme. A mezzanine floor was installed two years ago, increasing the capacity by 40%.
In mid-2014, 21 sites were acquired from the former Unipart Automotive business, and a companywide rebrand to become ‘Andrew Page – The Autoparts People’ was completed.
As the company approached its centenary year, it acquired Solid Auto UK and opened a new depot in Halesowen before, in 2016, Andrew Page was acquired by its current owners, USA-based LKQ Corporation.
Simon Mullin, Head of Business Improvement, who has been with Andrew Page for 28 years, said:
“The ethos of the business remains in many of us, even after Andrew and his family took the difficult decision to sell the business in 2010. As Andrew Page begins the next part of its 100 year journey, I am pleased that a trade investor has decided to walk along with us.”
PMF visited Andrew Page in Wakefield to speak to Branch Manager, Gary Greatorex.
Q. Gary, thank you for talking to PMF. Firstly, what are the current challenges and talking points you are facing as a business?
GG: “Competition in motor factoring has grown considerably over the last few years and certainly since I joined Andrew Page back in 1996. But the main challenge is that every day is different, you can never have an agenda as a motor factor manager. Every day you open the door to a new challenge.”
Q. Telesales forms a large part of a motor factor’s day-to-day trade now, can you tell us a little more about how you manage that?
GG: “We are constantly monitoring which customers have placed orders and those that haven’t. We have a schedule of four sections throughout the day, this allows us to focus and plan our outbound sales activity. This ranges from contacting our core business, revisiting quotes from the previous day, generating sales in the afternoon and driving activity around core products and daily promotions in the afternoon. We also track all of our calls and target the team daily, this allows me to ensure that we are providing an excellent service and maximising any opportunities”.
Q. How large an area does the branch cover?
GG: “We service all of the Wakefield area from this branch, as well as Barnsley and Hemsworth. We have a fleet of 14 vans to cover the area and, if we don’t have the product in stock, we can source it from other local branches and get it to the customer usually the same day, within a matter of hours or, if absolutely necessary, the following day.”
Q. What are the trends in terms of footfall in the branch?
GG: “Most of our business is transacted over the phone, but we do have a click and collect service and a retail store. The click and collect service is particularly useful for our mobile mechanic customers, with no fixed place of work. The retail shop opened in 2015 to make better use of the space we have and the footfall has been encouraging. The shop also allows our trade customers to pick up small products and consumables while they are waiting to collect goods.”
Q. What changes have you noticed since the LKQ takeover?
GG: “The main thing is the improved stock levels that we have access to, because of the increased investment within the business. It is great to have a trade investor on board that can help grow and develop Andrew Page as a business.”
Q. Stock management is always a major consideration – how do you stay on-top of it?
GG: “Stock is always something we are monitoring and we are regularly adjusting our warehouse by clearing out some of the slower moving stock to make way for faster moving products. Working with our Supply Chain team we ensure that the stock on the shelves meets customer’s demands by reviewing sales, product pareto’s and new-to-range.”