Large European dealer groups – dealing with consolidation
A core part of our research is to track the developments of the largest European dealer groups on a regular basis, which enables an understanding of long-term trends and drivers for the future.
Against the backdrop of continuous network consolidation in sales and service, these players continue to grow, benefiting from scale and a shared operating model. In some cases, this has been boosted by acquisitions – some of which are notably substantial, as those of Emil Frey, which strengthened their position as number one in Europe by revenue in our 2017 ranking.
Our 2018 dealer survey shows that there is a consent across executives from major European groups that – despite different starting points in the market – the consolidation wave will continue in the coming 5 years, related to a number of factors such as changes in dealer contracts, implying high investments required. There appears to be a general understanding that scale is needed to operate sustainably, which is currently being addressed in different ways, varying by market and dealer group size. Approaches include exploiting regional synergies or mergers and acquisitions with other operators. As a consequence, the majority of groups are considering to buy (even smaller groups), whilst some others are anticipating to sell for different reasons – with the majority of both expecting to take action at the best opportunity. However, currently many constraints to either buying or selling remain, varying to some degree by market, and in part influenced by OEM plans and government actions.
We think that OEMs have a major influence on consolidation and should be communicating more directly and openly with their networks on future plans, i.e. share their vision and clarify the dealer role, in order to enable dealer investors to prepare for the future. But dealer groups should not wait on OEMs only but start building their future themselves.
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