CSF Saxons confident of building on previous success

CSF Saxons confident of building on previous success

Sanjiv Shah, the co-owner of Car Spares Factors (CSF), warmly extended an invitation to our editor, Tom Henman, to reveal the reasoning behind the Saxons Motor Factors takeover and the plans to take the business to the “next level” – here is part one of that interview:

CSF is a multi-site factor, one with ambition and desire to grow. With branches in North London, Hertfordshire, Essex and Middlesex, the CSF family has grown to seven following the acquisition of Saxons Motor Factors. The family that owned the motor factor based in Harrow, steeped in more than 40 years of history, handed over the keys to CSF back in November but still manage the day-to-day business.

As I walked into CSF Saxons, it was busy. Phones were ringing, walk-in customers seeking advice from the counter staff, and parts were being picked off the shelves. It felt like ‘business as usual’. There were a few signs, nothing too in your face, of CSF’s presence but I got the impression straight away that Sanj and his team hadn’t gone in all guns blazing! The existing shop front, for example, was still in-tact, untouched and unchanged – and there is a very good reason for that, according to Sanj:

“This is a transition period for all of us; three members of the family that previously owned Saxons have stayed on, which has been a big help for us. If we’ve wanted to make changes, we’ve liaised with them to get their feedback – why wouldn’t we utilise the knowledge of customers and experience of the area that has been amassed over 44 years?

“They know the area, the customer base, the culture – what customers like and don’t – so going in with the ‘CSF way’ straight away would’ve been naïve. We’re implementing our systems slowly. It makes good business sense. The day-to-day running of the business has, generally, stayed the same for the moment.”

Laying the foundations

Sanj is a candid, transparent person; he is happy to offer genuine insights into his business. As such, he revealed that Saxons was on his radar three-and-a-half years ago, but the timing was never right – until now.

Sanj said: “Prior to COVID-19, we were in discussions, but the pandemic put the brakes on it. The opportunity in Waltham Abbey then materialised (CSF’s sixth site opened in 2022) and was too good to turn down.

“Once settled in Waltham Abbey, we restarted discussions and there was still an interest in selling-up. We wanted to get the deal done quickly, it should’ve been a simple transaction, but, like many business deals, it took a little longer than we wanted. The deal is now done, however, and we’re open for business and we’re delighted to be here.”

A good taste in books…

Given the due diligence done and the fond relationship with the previous owners, Sanj knew, to some extent, what CSF was taking on at the time; however, it quickly became clear that restructuring Saxons’ four-decade-old system, switching to the CSF infrastructure, would take considerable time. This included IT systems, phones, stock cleansing and deliveries.

Sanj said: “Having to transfer everything from the old system into the new one, then to head office, it took several painstaking weeks. There were four different phones, which couldn’t transfer calls, so that was something we needed to resolve urgently. As I said at the start, we wanted to make a positive impact, slowly and gradually, to help the efficiency of the business first and foremost.”

CSF depots complementing each other

CSF Park Royal is only eight miles from CSF Saxons. Sanj believes these two branches will complement each other: “There are a lot of customers that want to use Saxons but live in Uxbridge, Park Royal areas. Previously, those customers would miss out because Saxons worked to a certain perimeter and only had two vans on the road; however, now under the CSF umbrella, those same customers can order from CSF Saxons and CSF Park Royal team will deliver the parts. We can now service those customers. That creates huge potential for us, and we believe we can double our turnover over time.”

“This is one we’ve always wanted”

Talking so passionately and enthusiastically about Saxons, I think I already knew the answer to my next question, but I asked it anyway – I asked Sanj if Saxons was the one he always wanted, and his response was emphatic.


He said: “Definitely! I’ve wanted Saxons for a long time. There is a friendship and respect there, which is why we never made the move until it was made crystal clear to us that the owners were willing to sell. We would never open a new site in the area either, for that same reason. When the opportunity arose, though, we were determined to get a done deal.”

Experience in transforming existing factors

Waltham Abbey was different; it was new and fresh. I could still smell the freshly coated paint when I walked around it. Saxons had endured a lifetime of footsteps, scuffs on the wall, winter after winter, and the building was weary. Sanj admitted that CSF is on the lookout for new premises but, in that part of London, buildings of the square footage required come at a premium and are usually snapped up quickly.

Sanj is unconcerned, though, given the experience CSF has in relocating – he said: “In 1996, we bought John Michael Car Spares in Haringey; the site was a mess, the building was falling apart. Mercifully, we found a new warehouse and that became – and still is – our busiest depot.

Look at those dates!

“A year later, we acquired AK Motor Spares in Muswell Hill; again, we relocated and, actually, we transferred the stock to our Finchley warehouse and took the customer base with us. That’s another site where we had to relocate. We know the philosophy of our base and the type of structure, layout that we want, and we know we’ll make another success out of Saxons.”

What is clear is that the long-standing reputation Saxons has earned over 44 years of business, employing the same ‘family ethos’ and focus on customer service as CSF, means CSF Saxons is primed to succeed. With £3 million of stock, integrated IT systems and fleet making deliveries often within the hour, there is ample potential.

Sanj admitted that there are some attributes and characteristics observed by the previous owners that will help CSF; likewise, he believes some CSF traits will make a positive, indelible mark on Saxons. It would appear this a happy marriage and one that should lend itself to a successful, long-term future.

Look out for part two!

For more information about Car Spares Factors (CSF), click here.

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