Inter Cars : Inter-grated27 April 2022
One of the regions of Europe with the greatest growth over the past decade has been Central Europe. Part of that is about the growing importance of the region to transport within the EC region and beyond. “On the roads, Poland seems to have the biggest transport fleet after Germany. When the fleet grows, business grows – it’s natural,” observes Miroslaw Peciak, Haldex regional sales manager, Central Eastern Europe. He points out that since 2012, Haldex sales revenue in the region has grown by almost four times.
It’s not by chance that this is also a region that independent aftermarket parts distributor Inter Cars of Poland has had a huge role in developing. Founded in the early 1990s after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the company listed on the Warsaw stock exchange in 2004, raising valuable funds that kick-started its expansion in terms of logistics, the branch network and product range.
Now, Inter Cars is in the top three players in several Central European countries. Half of its 2021 revenue was from outside its home country, with a prediction that exports will, for the first time, tip the balance this year. Inter Cars is now Haldex’s biggest customer in the region, accounting for nearly a quarter of sales.
In total, it has 574 operations in 18 countries, and has established a sales presence as far west as Italy (in Milan). Both inside and outside of Poland, the company’s distribution network relies on private companies, franchises, although every country that sets up a franchise also gains an Inter Cars outpost, too.
A matrix organisation maintains the Inter Cars focus on the individual markets -- passenger cars, commercial vehicles, tyres or agriculture -- operating within each geographical region. Each market has its own manager responsible not only for sales but also for purchasing. Inter Cars says that the scale of the operation and at the same time its organisation into smaller, specialised business segments enables it to act in an agile and flexible manner, and make it able to compete with smaller companies.
At the same time, the company has also forged strong links between the disparate operations. A few years ago, its daughter company ILS built a highly-automated central distribution warehouse for the entire region employing some 1,300 people in picking, packing and other duties. It works alongside two other Poland hubs and 11 warehouses in the country, along with nine foreign hubs. The company says: “Efficient logistics is a key element in achieving success.” Its road transport distribution operation “allows us to deliver parts to the most remote regions in a very short time. The customer usually receives parts available in one of the central warehouses within 24 hours. However, those available at the local branch are available immediately.”
Observes Peciak: “It’s amazing how Inter Cars leverages its business through logistics. All of its competitors tell us that.”
So influential has Inter Cars’ expansion been that it prompted Haldex to change from a country to a regional sales structure, reports Peciak, which allows it to work with the group as a whole, rather than franchises in individual countries. That was in 2018. This has also allowed it to offer every Inter Cars subsidiary the same prices. Peciak adds: “We coordinate on vision, tactics, strategy, tools, approach. For strategic matters, we deal with head office, and locally we talk to the country head office, because those companies have a certain level of independence in their approach.”
As for the parts distributor’s point of view of the supply relationship, it says: “Thanks to cooperation with Haldex, we get access to aftermarket products; we also receive technical information updates and all kinds of information on changes in technological trends at manufacturers of pneumatic components manufacturers. In addition, we receive information and training support for our branches and our clients, including workshops and mechanics.”
When the pandemic broke, Haldex developed a virtual training model, ‘HOT’ – Haldex online training – for Inter Cars customers. The courses were advertised on social media including Facebook and repeated many times to cater for large audiences.
It also supports Inter Cars with training programmes for its customers. Daughter company Q Service provides membership schemes with the local customer base, offering know-how, training and loyalty schemes. At its head office near Warsaw, Inter Cars has also begun a service operation supporting the Turkish truck brand Ford Otosan.
Inter Cars concludes: “What undoubtedly distinguishes Haldex is the great emphasis placed by the manufacturer on the user-friendliness of technological solutions. It is also worth praising Haldex for its openness to development ideas and flexibility in cooperation with Inter Cars.”