Annual meetings organized by Automotive Spare Parts Manufacturers and Distributors Association (SDCM) deliver its participants up-to-date knowledge about situation on the aftermarket.

The meeting is also to discuss and summarise the effects of activities of international and domestic companies which represent common interest of all the companies from this sector of industry. In Polish economic realities this mostly relates to SDCM, which recorded many measurable successes in this field, and also fought for the right place in the decision taking structures of our national economy. Symbolic measurement of the achievements in this area was the patronage of honour of the VIII conference by: Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Transport, Construction and Sea and Polish Agency of Foreign Information and Investments. It is worth noticing the fact that in its merit content there were speeches of four MPs from Polish Parliament and Undersecretary of State – Grażyna Henclewska.

The general situation of automotive sector in Poland and Europe was presented by: Filip Skawiński from Polish representation office of European Commission and Bogumił Papierniok – CEO of MotoProfil (discussing EC project development called Cars 2020), Alfred Franke – President of SDCM (with information about the most recent report on operations of the organization), Robert Kierzek – CEO of Inter Cars SA and Piotr Włodarczyk – President of EurotaxGlass's (in his analysis of operations of the biggest European distributors and chains of garages). Information delivered by them revealed a full picture of the current state of automotive industry and its development trends including the independent aftermarket.

Situation and trends

Automotive industry is a strategic industry for European economy, as it creates 12 million of workplaces (around 7% of all places in production) in 180 factories (connected with al the European Union countries with delivery chains) and in around 3,000 small and medium companies. It generates around 4% of Polish GDP and has a positive trade balance (around 120m Euro in 2012), and almost EUR 30m yearly investment in R&D. In Polish economy the automotive industry delivers 762 thousand workplaces.

Automotive companies do not have coherent interests. Aims of car manufacturers are usually in opposition to expectations of independent manufacturers and distributors of spare parts, operating outside the authorised chains. Cars 2020 program supports all manufacturers of cars, but also the independent aftermarket and such European organizations as FIGIEFA and CLEPA.

Current crisis on European automotive market is expressed with over 8% fall in sales of passenger cars in 2012 (12.1m cars were sold in comparison to almost 16m in 2007). The forecast for 2013 is a decrease by another 4%. Besides current business factors there are also other ones, such as geographical and economical ones, market saturation in the western, central and northern Europe and a slowdown in the southern and eastern Europe. Poland shows a constant and stable increase (2013 to 2012 = +4.8%) and has good perspectives for the future.

Sales of new passenger cars (300.000 pieces) and import of used passenger cars (700.000 pieces) in Poland is on a stabilized level since 2009. But the cost of running a car, despite still low in comparison to other European countries, are far too big for our private economies, and this influences technical condition of cars.

The independent automotive aftermarket in Poland faces no crisis now. In passenger segment there was a substantial increase of 12.5% in PLN, that is an increase of 10.8% in Euro, truck market 10.5% in PLN (8.9% in EUR).

In the whole Europe we can notice that the fleet is getting younger as regards truck segment, thanks to favourable system of payments for the models which meet EURO 6 norms. Older cars are sold only outside European markets.

Aftermarket vs. OE

Independent automotive aftermarket must fight with car makers not only for the income from servicing and repairing the cars but also for its marketing image. Problems were discussed at the conference by Krzysztof Künstler – CEO of Schaeffler Poland, Dawid Cieśla – Marketing and Sales Director of AD Poland and  Tomasz Ładosz – Garage Chain Manager in Inter Cars. There are some marketing activities performed by car manufacturers which discredit the quality of goods and services offered by the independent aftermarket. According to participants of the discussion, the independent garages still not everywhere and by not everybody are considered to offer good quality of goods and services. Distributors and spare parts manufacturers work to improve the brand image of the aftermarket by offering their customers professional support in the form of trainings and help in modernization of the garages. But the most can do the garages themselves.

Nowadays the standard competition between products manufactured by the producers and those packed in boxes with logo of car manufacturers is also joined by another segment of products. We are talking about private brands of big distributors. Katarzyna Hys in her speech discussed this matter, and the practical side of things was discussed by Wojciech Głowaty from Caros-Service company and Marek Młotek-Kucharczyk - CFO Inter Team. It turned out that, in opinion of manufacturers, the sales of private brands cause a decrease in sales of premium products. Distributors on the other hand said that their own brands allow to gain better profit margins.

Probably in the near future the fight for the customer will also take place in another area. This will be caused by telematic systems assembled on the cars by their manufacturers. Technical possibilities of this solution were presented on the basis of American concerns by Piotr Podrażka from Delphi company. Ongoing control of technical condition of a car can impose on the driver the need of visiting a garage in order to avoid a serious malfunction. It is easy to guess whose garage it will be…