It has been an active year on many fronts, but without doubt the story of the year has to be victory in the access-to-OE- repair-information battle.
Right-to-repair access has been the Holy Grail for years in Canada, and the establishment of a cooperative, voluntary agreement, the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standards, proves just what can be accomplished when the will and endurance exists.
The fact is, however, that the impact of changes such as this can take years to be realized. In many ways, the industry and its customer base are going to have to catch up to the development, which should in no way be taken to suggest that it will not prove to be among the most important developments in the contemporary aftermarket.
From an industry-trend standpoint, the high point has to be the general rebound of the aftermarket business. While a light winter in many parts of the country didn’t help the first quarter much, on the whole the industry has been logging strongly positive year-over-year results.
Not to be left out, of course, are some other issues that may have long-term implications, such as the closure or conversion to independent status of many car dealers across Canada and the U.S.
And while the impact of that change continues to work its way through the aftermarket economy, it is sure to have long- lasting, positive effects for the local markets affected as well as the industry at large.
From a distribution perspective, consolidation continues to be the overriding trend. Driven by the need to reduce, or at least control, administrative and inventory costs as a percentage of the overall business, the big will continue to get bigger.
This trend has manifested itself in a variety of ways: jobbers adding branches and remote inventory locations; jobbers adding delivery capabilities to extend their reach; warehouse distributors acquiring competitors; smaller and medium-sized warehouse distribution organizations making dramatic expansions. While this is not, strictly speaking, a new trend, it is particularly notable in that it is happening in the midst of a deep recession, north and south of the border.
Against this set of larger trends occurred many news items, some of great importance, others of smaller status, but all combining to make 2010 a very active year for the Canadian automotive aftermarket.