The new Chief Executive of LKQ UK & Ireland has outlined his commitment to long-term supplier-customer partnerships as key to driving sustainable growth across the aftermarket.
Kevan Wooden was speaking at the business’ annual two-day Branch Managers Conference, hosted at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole. The event was attended by approximately 800 colleagues, garage owners and suppliers – with VIP speakers including F1 legends driver David Coulthard and strategist Bernie Collins.
Each of the four businesses within the LKQ UK & Ireland group – LKQ Euro Car Parts, LKQ Bodyshop, LKQ Leisure & Marine and Digraph – is the leader in its respective market.
The group-wide conference focussed on leveraging the strength of the four businesses’ best-in-class product range, logistical infrastructure and experience, influence and expertise to drive growth in partnership with customers.
In his keynote speech, Kevan Wooden, CEO of LKQ UK & Ireland, addressed colleagues, customers and suppliers, saying:
“We had a strong year in 2023, with strategic acquisitions like Digraph, and the launch of leading workshop concept 1TEC Auto Hub successfully expanding our support for customers.
Our people, products and customers are all central to achieving sustainable growth, with an exciting year ahead for the business. For example, sales excellence will be achieved through management and adviser training underpinned by new customer service technology; we can nurture growth areas like the HGV market with Digraph and geographic markets including Ireland; and we’ll be working hard to get the crucial electric vehicle (EV) parts that garages need to retain and win new customers. If we can help our customers to thrive, then we can thrive with them.
Our recent success reveals what can happen when we get out and see customers. They like the way we’ve changed over the years. We’re not just here to supply parts. We’re here to solve customers’ problems armed with a whole scope of services, really being a supportive partner of choice.”
The Supplier Zone at the conference featured activations and demonstrations from leading brands like Shell, Varta, Pagid, Brembo, Valeo, Mann, Bosch and Schaeffler – many of which work closely with LKQ on the 1TEC Auto Hub garage concept network launched last year, and which share LKQ’s commitment to innovation and customer support.
In a talk to delegates, Anthony McAteer, group procurement director at LKQ Euro Car Parts, also committed to being the first to market on key products launching in the next few years to help customers keep pace with evolving vehicle technologies. Meanwhile, Andy Southby, the new Chief Commercial Officer for UK & Ireland, spoke about the importance of building trust with customers, embracing change and how the business can and will continue to add value to the aftermarket.
Guests also heard from David Coulthard and Bernie Collins about their experiences in F1, how that can be transferred to colleagues, and on the importance of attracting young talent into the automotive sector.
The show’s LKQ Zone was home to a series of stands detailing the group’s commitment to its colleagues and to driving progress on the issues that matter. As well as highlighting key sustainability achievements and initiatives like its Community Branch Fund that supports local grassroots causes, there was a significant focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, including the group’s industry-leading commitment to reaching a 25% female workforce by 2025.
Speaking about the conference, Kevan added:
“In a competitive, challenging environment, the Branch Managers Conference brought our colleagues, suppliers and customers together to reflect on everything we’ve done to reinforce our position as customers’ partner of choice – and how strong and sustainable we increasingly are as a result. Building these relationships is centric to the aftermarket’s success as an ecosystem that relies on each other.
But we know we can never rest on our laurels in a dynamic market like the aftermarket. At the heart of the show was the principle of how we can continue to deliver excellence for customers by investing in our people and products and by fighting industry issues on their behalf to secure our mutual success.”