The importance of brand names is increasing in Europe's aftermarket, said James Ross, AC Delco's European area sales manager.
AC Delco is GM's aftermarket subsidiary.
'We're approaching the aftermarket in a different way to our competitors,' said Ross. 'We are trying to establish AC Delco as a popular brand with a range of products to fit all vehicles.'
Ross said AC Delco is distinctive because it doesn't focus on a narrow range of products. Instead, it aims to supply 90 to 95 percent of the parts needed in Europe's aftermarket.
Ross predicts a change in the structure of Europe's aftermarket.
'The trend is definitely going to wholesale distributors, who are moving in and selling direct into the independent garages,' said Ross. 'Distinct channels seem to be disappearing.'
This means the logistics of the independent aftermarket business are changing. Independent garages do not carry the big inventories anymore, said Ross. Therefore large wholesale distributors, who traditionally delivered once a week to their automotive retailers, have to deliver more frequently.
The growth of the wholesalers also brings them into conflict with manufacturer brands such as AC Delco. Ross said: 'These big buying groups are going to be competing head-on with the manufacturers when they try to get their parts to the marketplace.'