Independent numbers down

Garage numbers drop by more than 20%

Published:  02 November, 2012

THE NUMBER of vehicle service and repair outlets in the UK dropped by 22 per cent during the period 2001 to 2011 - from 27,159 to an estimated 21,119, according to new data from the 2012 Castrol Professional Car Servicing & Repair Trend Tracker report.

The news follows the announcement that servicing volumes are continuing to fall across the sector, despite the value of the UK aftersales market expanding in recent years to £8.97bn (excluding MOTs and VAT).

While the number of independent workshops operating in the aftersales market has dropped by 25 per cent, from 15,380 outlets in 2001 to an estimated 11,540 in 2011, evidence suggests that franchised dealerships haven't experienced the same level of decline.  The number of franchised workshops has fallen by 12 per cent from 6,129 to 5,409 over the same period.

The report suggests that a further decline in workshop numbers is to be expected in the coming years.  Forecasts from the 2012 Castrol Professional Car Servicing & Repair Trend Tracker report predict that there will be around 19,680 workshops in business by 2017, a fall (from current numbers) of seven per cent.  Servicing and repair volumes are expected to fall by four per cent within the same timeframe, from 47.2 million transactions in 2011 to 45.2 million.

Commenting on the drop in workshop numbers over the last decade, Trend Tracker analyst Chris Oakham said: "Falling servicing volumes and a near-stagnant car parc in the UK have left many workshops struggling, but there are other issues at play.  Small businesses across the economy are being affected by inflation in fixed costs, while advances in modern vehicles' electronics require greater investment in training and diagnostics equipment."

Nigel Head,  a manager at Castrol, commented: "While the aftersales market may have grown in value recently, servicing outlets should be careful not to rest on their laurels.  The new car market isn't expected to expand significantly in the coming years, and the number of cars up to four years old has fallen in recent times.  In particular, franchised dealerships should take note, as this segment of the market is their traditional heartland for aftersales custom.

"To maximise service bay utilisation, workshops must be proactive in getting their message across to motorists, highlighting the value of having their car regularly serviced and maintained.  For instance, a full service history can often help boost a car's residual value, while ongoing manufacturer training and access to OEM-recommended parts and lubricants can help minimise the long-term costs to motorists by avoiding potentially-higher repair bills in the future," concluded Head.

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