LKQ Europe, the European market leader in automotive aftermarket parts for cars, commercial vans and industrial vehicles, gathered 250 of its top managers for a visionary leadership conference in Wembley, London on July 1st and July 2nd. The primary objective was developing common strategies on how to ensure the success of its customers in the changing independent aftermarket environment. LKQ Europe looks back on an inspiring and successful event.
With more than 27,000 employees in 21 European countries, LKQ Europe regularly serves 700,000 customers through its network of 1,100 branches. In 2018, it achieved revenue of approximately €4.6 billion. On a combined basis, this subsidiary of the US-based LKQ Corporation, is the leading distributor of automotive aftermarket parts in Europe. It is represented by the renowned regional groups Euro Car Parts, Sator Group, Rhiag Group, Elit, AutoKelly, and STAHLGRUBER Group, as well as a recycling specialist Atracco. LKQ also holds a minority interest in publicly traded Mekonomen which is headquartered in Sweden.
Team spirit and championship
For its first European leadership conference, LKQ Europe invited 250 of its executives to Wembley. The location not only stands for team spirit and championship, but is also the place where the European LKQ success story began in 2011.
LKQ Corporation’s current Chairman and first CEO, Joe Holsten, and current President and CEO, Nick Zarcone, joined the event as special guests, providing motivating insights. Important business partners of LKQ Europe such as Schaeffler, Hella, Mahle, Varta and several others showed their support by sponsoring the conference.
The event was dedicated to welcoming change and being prepared for developments in the market, always in accordance with Darwin’s recognition that it isn’t the strongest, biggest or most intelligent of a species that survives, but the one most responsive to change.
The meeting addressed some of the more important long-term trends and focused on ways to use them to enhance LKQ’s customer offering. In LKQ’s view, key developments include market consolidation, vehicle manufacturers’ strategies, new internet focused distributors, an increasing shortage of qualified mechanics, vehicle data processing and the influence of new technologies, ranging from autonomous driving to electric vehicles.
John Quinn, CEO of LKQ Europe, underlined the need for embracing changes: “It is clear we can’t assume the coming years will resemble the past because things are changing faster than ever before. We need to anticipate these opportunities and act. We all need to recognise the critical need to adapt and change as there is a massive opportunity for LKQ to actively shape the independent aftermarket for the benefit of our customers, employees and shareholders.”
Seeing opportunities, not threats
The conference attendees agreed that the key to continued success is putting customers first through helping the customers understand and navigate the changing environment.
Arnd Franz, COO LKQ Europe, pointed out: “We need to offer our garage customers everything they need for a successful business – service, support, equipment and training on new issues arising from the technology shift. We have to grow LKQ in order to gain the scale effects required to provide our customers with solutions that will allow them to remain competitive. We need to support them with logistic networks that give them flexibility and speed for their customers. We need to equip them with brands and concepts upon which end-customers can rely.”
It’s all about the people
Special guest Nick Zarcone, CEO LKQ Corporation, focused the executives’ attention on the fact that taking care of the employees will be as crucial as catering to the customers in the future: “We need to attract the best in class talent that embody our values. And we need to help our employees embrace the upcoming change while simultaneously keeping the customer the centre of attention”, he stated.
Joe Holsten, co-founder and Chairman of the LKQ Corporation, used the opportunity to emphasise the importance of trust in relationships. Joe’s message was particularly on point as LKQ brings together the best companies in the industry, each with its own culture, to take LKQ Europe to the next level as ‘One LKQ’. “Trust is key to business leadership – trust in ourselves, suppliers, in the senior management, and our customers’ trust in us. And we have to earn this trust every single day.”