BUILDING A RESILIENT TEAM DRIVES GROWTH AND DELIVERS VALUE

GPC Asia Pacific says it has bucked the trend, with its commitment to fostering a culture of compassion, support and understanding building a resilient team which has continued to grow the business during the COVID-19 pandemic

Julian Buckley

While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works for an untold number of businesses across Australia, GPC Asia Pacific has continued to invest in and grow both its Repco and NAPA businesses during these challenging times.
“We’ve got two powerful arms in Australia and New Zealand, in Repco and NAPA,” GPC Asia Pacific Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Julian Buckley, said.
Of course, growing two businesses with their strengths and long heritage in the automotive industry requires extensive and ongoing planning and close coordination to ensure each has a unique customer value proposition (CVP).
This ensures Repco and NAPA’s respective offers are clear to customers, and each business avoids fighting over the same customer base and ultimately cannibalising sales – a trap many have fallen into over the years.
“As we set about simultaneously revitalising Repco and planning our growth strategy for NAPA several years ago, it was critical to ensure that both of these strong arms remained distinct,” Julian explained.
“We were confident the Australian automotive aftermarket was large enough to support both brands, and with the trends and dynamics we see in the market, together with our customer segmentation analysis, we knew our customers had a wide variety of needs and requirements better served by two complementary offers.”
Armed with this knowledge, the GPC Asia Pacific team worked tirelessly to build out two distinct CVPs.
“We certainly didn’t want one business to try to be everything to everyone, as that would just dilute the offer and potentially cause confusion for customers,” Julian said.
“As such, both Repco and NAPA are quite focused in their approach.”
Repco Australia Executive General Manager, Wayne Bryant, confirmed that Repco’s approach continues to focus on its dual format model servicing both Trade and Retail channels.

Repco’s Trade CVP is based on delivering complete solutions for professional workshops, while in Retail, Repco offers a one-stop shop for enthusiasts who love, fix and drive their cars.
Repco’s Trade and Retail CVP are both reportedly underpinned by an unmatched store network footprint, located conveniently close to customers.
“The large majority of the customers that Repco services in the trade space of the aftermarket require parts on-demand within a very short window of time,” Wayne said.
“Our footprint positions Repco to deliver within 30 to 60 minutes in most instances. That’s backed by a comprehensive range, knowledgeable staff, and an industry-leading B2B offering that is focused on workshop connectivity.”
For almost 100 years, Repco says it has built a reputation as a powerhouse in the Australasian automotive aftermarket. The network includes 316 stores in Australia and another 85 in New Zealand, supported by a distribution centre network with DCs in all major capital cities.
“We opened our newest store mid-August 2020, right in the middle of the Stage Four COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne, which, of course, provided some unique challenges, but also highlights our commitment to growing the brand,” Wayne said.
“We’ve got more stores closer to our customers than anyone else in the market. We’ve got the biggest network of stores, and we’ve got that backed up by a national network of DCs holding product to support both Repco and NAPA.”
While NAPA is a newer brand in the Australian market, it builds on the 90-year heritage and legacy of six well-established names in the automotive aftermarket: Ashdown Ingram, Covs, Motospecs, RDA Brakes, R&E Auto Parts, and Global Auto Spares.
“The successful launch of NAPA is part of our multi-year strategic plan developed several years ago, and which is now mid-way through the implementation phase,” explained Julian.

“We took a deep dive to forecast how the industry would continue to change in coming years, to ensure we positioned our businesses to continue to service customers effectively as their requirements change going forward.
“A critical part of the analysis was a review of our business portfolio and their respective strengths and opportunities.
“We had six businesses that were operating relatively independently yet in parallel in the market. Covs, R&E and Global Auto Parts were each servicing the general mechanical service market in their respective regions; whilst Ashdown-Ingram, Motospecs and RDA Brakes were focused much more on specialist channels.
“While these businesses benefitted from a common support structure, they each went to market independently, with standalone branch networks.
“NAPA unifies the heritage, experience and expertise of these six businesses under one roof, to fill what we believe is a significant gap in the Trade segment of Australia’s automotive aftermarket and industrial markets. NAPA offers a one-stop shop for both general and specialist service and repair products.”
According to Julian, NAPA offers the market’s leading range backed by ‘NAPA Know How’ with everyday great value.
“We have an industry-leading cost base within NAPA that allows us to offer terrific value to our customers, whether they be generalists in trade, specialist automotive and industrial players, or even at the larger end of the mining town, who are looking for a one-stop-shop solution,” said Julian.
Currently, there are 22 NAPA branches across Australia, with 11 new branches opening in 2020 despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to the GPC Asia Pacific team.
“We have an incredible culture, and our team members are the lifeblood of the Repco and NAPA organisations and thrive on rising to meet challenges,” Julian said.

“They have clearly demonstrated this over the past six months, not only continuing to offer exceptional service to our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also successfully opening 11 new NAPA branches and four new Repco stores, in spite of travel restrictions and border controls.
“At a time like this, it’s incredibly important that companies who can, step-up and do the right thing to support employees.”
“Our people are our most valuable asset, and our team members’ safety has long been the number one priority in our business.
“At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, our Group Leadership Team agreed on two over-arching principles that would serve to steer us through the crisis. Firstly, that we would put our team’s health and safety at the forefront of everything we did throughout the crisis. And secondly, we would do everything we could to provide job security and certainty during this period. We are really proud that we have been able to live up to these two important principles thus far.”
Despite its main operating entities being ineligible for the JobKeeper Program, GPC Asia Pacific generously self-funded a comparable financial support model for employees during the first rounds of COVID restrictions in April, regardless of the hours worked by their team.
In keeping with that approach, GPC Asia Pacific also maintained full wages of full-time and part-time employees in Melbourne throughout the August and September Stage Four lockdown. It also developed a support plan for casual retail employees, ensuring those working more than 12 hours a week maintained their usual wage.
“Of course, the Stage Four lockdown in Melbourne provided us with significant challenges, but we successfully pivoted, in line with the more stringent restrictions, to ensure we continued to adhere to government COVID-Safe guidelines, yet also be able to meet the needs of our trade and retail customers who require service and repair parts to keep essential vehicles moving and supporting permitted industries,” Wayne explained.

GPC Asia Pacific’s leadership team knew it had to implement and maintain an adaptable and dynamic stance, to be positioned to overcome the crisis. To this end, it has consistently used a framework described as Anticipate, Act, Pause, and Assess.
It says this has allowed GPC Asia Pacific to compile and review as much information as is available in the market to seek to anticipate what may happen next, act to make changes in the business, pause to allow those changes to take effect, and then assess the impact of those changes. This cycle is then continuously repeated to determine the next move.
“This framework enabled us to move swiftly and dynamically, and combined with the unwavering dedication of our 6,000 plus employees, it has provided us with the opportunity to grow during the most turbulent market conditions we’ve experienced in our 98-year history,” Julian said.
“It has certainly required dedication, adaptability and innovation, but first and foremost it has required compassion.
“The culture here at GPC Asia Pacific is amazing. We’ve always been proud of our values and the resilience of our culture, but they have really been at the forefront throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It wouldn’t matter if you ran into someone that worked in one of our DCs, in a Repco store or in one of the NAPA branches across the network, you would quickly realise that we have an incredible team, all of whom are willing to lean in and carry a bit of the load when the going gets tough.
“They’ve worked really hard to continue to stay focused on doing a great job to serve our customers, comfortable in the knowledge that we will continue to prioritise their safety, well-being and job security, and if we do that and keep our sales up, then together we can weather any storm.”
GPC Asia Pacific says it has built a resilient, highly engaged, and passionate workforce that will no doubt secure its future for the next 100 years.

To find out more about GPC Asia Pacific, visit www.gpcasiapac.com or call 03 9566 5250.