Maintenance and distribution networks

The networks sector at EQUIP AUTO divides into several sections or markets: distribution, repairs and maintenance, e-commerce, software publishers, vehicle inspection networks, car wash or waste collection networks, etc. These bring together the most representative companies, all market leaders in their field, alongside small and medium-sized firms – and all of them working to serve maintenance and repair professionals. Exhibitors of the sector and all of the latest innovations in connected garages were in Pavilion 1 of Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in October 2017. 

Networks exhibitors


The automotive replacement parts market on Internet chiefly targets an end consumer audience. It is growing rapidly today and has doubled in size over the past five years. 15% of car owners bought spare parts online in 2015 (compared with 7% in 2010) and 11% bought tyres (6% in 2010). (Source GIPA, Driver survey 2015).

The proportion of e-business on the market, estimated at 6.5% in 2014 (source ICDP – new parts, excluding tyres and bodywork), remains low but it has high impact on the market. The business model of web-only suppliers who could be either all-rounders or tyre specialists, is mainly based on an aggressive pricing policy and, in response to customer demand, is moving increasingly towards services (leading to partnerships with professionals to fit the parts bought online).

In this restructuring of the part market, automotive centres employ a multi-channel strategy: retail in stores and on Internet with a “click and collect” arrangement which entails a visit to the shop to pick up the article ordered on the brand’s website. 


More than 70% of the market in automotive repairs, maintenance and other dedicated services is today organised into a multitude of brand networks, whether manufacturers or independents. This network organisation applies to all of the aftersales sectors, from mechanical and bodywork repairs and maintenance to vehicle inspection, parts and accessories distribution, tyre distribution, used vehicles and vehicle washes.

An alternative offering to brand networks emerged very quickly, made up of some 14,000 firms, mainly very small firms and sole traders: the Mécanicians Réparateurs Agréés (approved repair mechanics) or MRA. These firms are not related in any way with the vehicle manufacturer and do not therefore represent any brands other than their own or that of their grouping.

There are three types of network:

  • Distribution brands: these brands were created at the initiative of MRA suppliers: independent distributors gathered together in the federation FEDA. These distributors, in the same way as dealers, carry out the logistics of replacement parts for the agents of RA2 networks, MRA and Auto Centres. In light of the increasing complexity of cars and MRAs’ requirements for training and tooling, distributors formed networks which today feature among the largest today.
  • OEM brands: in the same vein, the manufacturers of original replacement parts and diagnostic tools who themselves are suppliers to independent distributors and vehicle manufacturers, set up their own MRA networks.
  • Vehicle manufacturer (VM) brands: Realising that they were losing market share on the second part of the car life cycle, VMs reacted by creating multi-brand repair networks in a similar way to the other two sectors. These networks rely on the logistics of the VM through its dealership network without displaying the car manufacturer’s brand, enabling enhanced cost effectiveness.


The business model of automotive centres emerged in the 1970s with the first widespread trend of installing car radios in cars.

The sector really took off with owners fitting equipment in cars they already owned, rather than in new vehicles. This led automotive centres to develop workshops immediately adjacent to their shops. But at the end of the 1980s, with sales of car radios tailing off due to automakers fitting them as standard in new vehicles, automotive centres were forced to focus their development on more traditional aftersales segments such as brakes and tyres.  

These markets players started to take more formal shape and become more concentrated, leading to the formation of groups with high growth capabilities (both organic and external) and communications resources.

It should be noted that not all of these firms share the same development model: some are based on a dense network through franchising, whereas others develop by creating new service points as subsidiaries. 


Fast fitters developed alongside automotive centres and at the same time, during the first oil crisis of 1973. On this occasion, groups such as Speedy and Midas grew by specialising in routine repairs such as exhaust replacements.


  • Wholesale groups, franchises, automotive centres, fast fitters
  • Garage networks
  • Vehicle inspection networks
  • Bodywork and repair networks
  • Auto glass repair networks
  • Logistics
  • IT equipment
  • Software, online applications
  • Collection (used parts and products, fluids, tyres, scrap)
  • Dismantling / recycling
  • Workshop and store fittings
  • Finance
  • Insurance
  • Vehicle rental
  • Used vehicle trade (networks, franchises, warranty, etc.
  • Miscellaneous dealerships (Licence free and other motorised vehicles)
  • Renovation, cleaning, washing (networks, franchises, etc.)
  • Online trade (Internet)




Sources:, FEDA, TCG Conseil, CNPA