Auto-Teile-Unger plans ambitious German expansion

Weiden, Germany. The repair and accessory chain Auto-Teile-Unger is planning to increase its outlets in Germany to 800 from 450 within the next 10 years if it successfully floats on the stock market.

This could happen as early as the summer as the company needs cash to speed up its ambitious expansion plans. Analysts believe that the stock market flotation could bring up to 1.5 billion.

ATU's business has grown from a tire outlet to an auto specialist and repair workshop chain within the past 20 years. It took off with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 when East Germans started buying lots of used western cars that needed replacement parts.

Last year the chain, which has 441 German outlets, 13 in Austria and one in the Czech Republic achieved managed sales of approximately 1.1 billion. Profit before tax, interest and amortizations was 203 million.

New CEO Werner Aichinger has replaced founder Peter Unger as company boss -- Unger is now head of the company's supervisory board. Aichinger believes there is plenty of room for growth.

ATU's share in the German aftermarket, which is worth 27 billion, is only 4 percent.

Authorized dealers have 47 percent of the market share, independent workshops 20 percent, spare parts dealers have 12 percent and tire traders 10 percent. ATU plans to take share after share from them.

The current poorly performing German economy doesn't worry Aichinger yet. On the contrary: cars are being driven for longer -- which means care and repair needs increase accordingly. Nowadays an auto remains with one owner for an average of 7.6 years -- ten years ago it was only 6.5 years.

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