Maintenance and distribution networks

Chiffres clés*

Millions of workshop entries in 2022

* Source: ANFA "Autofocus n°105/GIPA 2023
% of maintenance operations on vehicles over 15 years old are carried out "Do-It-Yourself "*.
Average age of vehicles on the road

All-make spare parts and automobile service distribution networks

The  vast majority of all-make automotive parts and service distributors in France are grouped under banners run by a dozen or so purchasing and  service alliances.
These groups represent 2,230 sites (*), or 2/3 of the total number of distributor outlets in France (3,700 outlets in all, see below).

Sector talking points

Distributor alliances in France
The  PHE Group (Parts Holding Europe), its Autodistribution and  Autodistribution Poids Lourd distributor brands, and its Doyen-API subsidiary; the AAG group (Alliance Automotive Group), with its Groupauto and Precisium brands (Partner's and Gef'Auto being replaced by the Pièces Auto brand), the Nexus Automotive group (which brings together four founding shareholders, IDLP-Alternative Autoparts, Aniel, Apprau, ID-Rechange, and two additional shareholders, Exadis and Mannes), the Agra-Autolia group, the LKQ - VHIP group (Van Heck  Interpièces) and the GDPA grouping.

(*) source Zepros Après-Vente
The all-make activity of car manufacturers
More than 50 car makes are marketed in France by just as many brand networks, through more than 5,000 brand dealerships and spare parts shops. These shops are mainly single-brand operations. However, over the last  two decades, French manufacturers in particular have launched a major offensive aimed at the all-makes market, starting with the creation of  the Motrio all-makes parts range for Renault and Eurorépar for  Peugeot-Citroën (at the turn of the millennium).
The second stage has been the creation of multi-brand logistics distribution platforms starting in the 2010s: the Distrigo distribution platforms (Stellantis PSA+FCA group, 38 regional platforms by 2022, including 10 subsidiaries) and the 'PR hubs' (30 platforms by 2022, eventually 80) deployed by the major Renault-Dacia distribution groups. Today, these two French groups, with their solid organisations, are competing with the network of all-make distributors for their shared  customers - independent workshops, dealers and body shops. Competition is intensifying in the field, and this could create pressure on the  margins of all those involved in distribution.
Online parts sellers
The gathering momentum of online spare parts retailers has opened up a new sales channel for parts suppliers, as well as providing new purchasing opportunities for repairers of all makes. In parallel with the growth of these various players (, Misterauto, Yakarouler, Allopneus for tyres, and Germany's Autodoc, etc.), since the early 2000s, alliances and distributors have been  developing online ordering using their own IT tools (e.g. Autossimo for Autodistribution, 2 million SKUs, 16,000 subscribers).
Today, 15 to 50% of total daily orders are placed online by repairers with distributors who have deployed a digital ordering channel. Autodistribution also acquired the website at the end of 2018. AAG is rolling out 'Back2car', its offering in reusable parts and parts from the circular economy. Digitalisation is now fully integrated into the strategies of groups and distributors.

Automotive mechanical repair networks

All-make car mechanical repair networks are the all-make competitors of brand dealers and authorised sellers. They now represent more than 9,000 workshops, i.e., the majority of the 13,000 all-make repair workshops in France.
The majority of network brands are run by parts and service distributor alliances (e.g., Autodistribution), which together represent nearly 6,700 affiliated workshops. The other 2,750 network workshops are run by car manufacturers: Eurorépar for Stellantis, Motrio for Renault, Motorcraft for Ford.
The table below lists the brands, the groups to which they belong and the number of workshops.

Automotive body shop networks

There are around 11,000 body shops in France (source: paint manufacturers), of which around 3,500 specialise entirely in bodywork and repairs. The majority are mixed mechanical and bodywork workshops.
Creating networks also remains a major trend, as it is in mechanical repairs. As regards specialist body shops, 2,670 companies have formed 10 networks (see table below). Some are run by paint manufacturers, some by  distribution alliances, and some, like Axial (EDRA Group), are entirely  independent.

Other brands: fast fitters, tyre dealers and auto centres

Auto centres
Auto centre brands first appeared in France in 1970 with  Norauto ( first auto centre opened in Englos on the outskirts of Lille)  and Feu Vert (first centre opened in Dardilly in the Lyon region in  1970). The Mobivia group, which manages the Norauto, Midas, Carter-cash  and Auto5 brands in Belgium and ATU in Germany, is Europe's leading auto  centre group.
These brands offer both self-service sales of parts and accessories and maintenance services for all makes in their workshops. Operations are limited to routine maintenance, with some centres offering timing belt replacement.
Fast fitters
Fast fitters (Speedy, Midas) arrived in France at the end of the 1970s. After their heyday in the 80s and 90s, the number of fast-fitters in France has fallen sharply.
Their  work is limited to the quickest operations, and because they are smaller than auto centres and target city centres, they usually carry out routine maintenance without an appointment.
Tyre dealers
Tyre dealers (Point S, Euromaster, BestDrive, Profil+, Vulco, Eurotyre, etc.), some of them with Europe-wide reach, have amalgamated hundreds of  independent local or regional players since the 1970s in France, and operate a mixed business, with both light and heavy vehicles, and even agricultural and/or special machinery products.

Roadworthiness testing

First introduced in France in 1991, roadworthiness testing (known as MOT testing in the UK) is a public service delegated by the Ministry of Ecology, Energy and Territories. In France, roadworthiness tests assess the mechanical condition of every car, van and HGV in the fleet, and are  carried out exclusively in premises that are separate from the car servicing sector, to ensure that the results of mandatory tests are impartial and not used for commercial purposes.
There are almost 6,700 roadworthiness testing centres in France, with a total of 11,500 employees (source: ANFA). They carried out 25.56 million  roadworthiness tests on passenger cars and light vehicles in 2022 (source: Ministry of Ecology).
The testing specifications change regularly. The latest reform dates from 2021, with the precise measurement of the opacity of diesel engine fumes.
Roadworthiness tests for powered two and three-wheelers are expected to be introduced in France in 2024.

The sector's product categories

Auto body repair networks
Auto body repair networks; Detailing specialists; Fast fitters and used vehicle preparation networks
Auto glass repair networks
Garage networks
Miscellaneous dealerships (microcars and other motor driven machines)
MOT testing networks
Vehicle manufacturers
After-sales service; Customer service; Dealer networks; Multi-brand networks; Spare parts
Wholesale groups - Franchises - Auto centres
Auto centers; Distribution centres; Fast fitters; Franchised networks; Wholesale groups - Buying groups

You wish to exhibit at EQUIP AUTO On Tour 2024?