New owners for Camberley

Camberley Auto Factors depot in Parham drive & familiar fleet of vans. Photo: Camberley Auto Factors

A well-known family-owned wholesaler of motor parts with a branch in Chandlers Ford, Camberley Auto Factors, has been sold to a motor parts distributor based in the North of England.

Backed by a private equity company, Andrew Page Ltd is busy expanding into a national chain and have now acquired Camberley Auto Factors business across the South of England.

Following the acquisition of Camberley, the combined business will operate from 90 sites and employ approximately 2,000 staff, with depots across most of England.

Answering a question raised by Eastleigh News, a spokesperson for Andrew Page Ltd said that;

There is no plan to re-brand the business, and the Eastleigh depot will remain as it is.

Commenting on the acquisition, Mark Roberts, the Chief Executive Officer of Andrew Page Ltd, said:

“The senior management team at AP and our loyal staff look forward to working with the Camberley team to create one of the UK’s largest and most successful independent motor factors.” 

Speaking for Phoenix Equity Partners, a middle-market private equity firm which is now the majority shareholder in Andrew Page Ltd, was John Rastrick, who said:

“We see the potential for substantial future growth with Andrew Page, both organically and by acquisition and are committed to supporting the Company to achieve this. “

Southern Hampshire is currently very well served by motor factors, an industry which holds spare parts for motor vehicles and distributes them to the point of repair as and when they are needed. This saves the workshops having to hold their own store of spare parts, an impossible overhead given the many different types of vehicle that are to be seen on the roads, and allows the motor factors to obtain the economies of scale through bulk-buying. In theory, a larger group will buy larger quantities and should be able to buy (and sell) at a lower price. Each motor factor runs a fleet of vans which transfer the parts from the warehouse to the place of repair. A larger group requires a larger fleet of vans, which incurs greater overheads, which to some extent offsets the greater buying power.

Besides the vans from Camberley Auto Factors, the vans from Advanced Factors, Eurocarparts, GSFKimber and others are a regular sight on the roads around Eastleigh, Southampton and the surrounding area. 

As has been seen in other UK industries, a common problem with a national chain is that they can become too corporate, too impersonal and inflexible. Another risk is that when backed by a private equity company, the equity company will eventually decide to cash-in on its investment and sell the business. The subsequent owners then tend to seek efficiency savings and start asset stripping. 

Although the new owners of Camberley Auto Factors are currently very excited at the acquisition and optimistic for the future, it remains to be seen whether this is really a good move for the local economy in the longer term.

Ray Turner

Formerly a Civil-Servant and IT Specialist at ONS, Ray is now semi-retired and spare-time self-employed. He contributes to Eastleigh News on a voluntary basis and is also an administrator for the site.