Setting up the business for an increasingly electric aftermarket: “Must be viewed as an opportunity”

Norway is leading the shift towards electric cars – and some anticipate that the playing field will be redrawn for the automotive aftermarket. Geir Hoff, Managing Director of MEKO’s subsidiary Mekonomen in Norway, is effectively implementing the plan for the future. One of the secrets: not having to reinvent the wheel. 

Setting up the business for an increasingly electric aftermarket: “Must be viewed as an opportunity”

Since the acquisition of Christoffersen and Bekken and establishment of wholesale operations back in 1999, MEKO has held a steady and resilient standing in Norway. 

A lot has happened since. 

For Geir Hoff, the past few years have been hectic and filled with notable achievements. To further boost operations, improve service and enhance availability, MEKO recently announced two strategic initiatives in Norway, both part of the larger initiative “Building a Stronger MEKO”.  

Notably, the investment in a fully automated high-tech central warehouse in Oslo is set to reduce the number of units from 51 to 32 but still manages to increase the number of available branches for the customers. Altogether, the initiative is estimated to amount to savings of SEK 43m during 2024 and annual net savings of at least SEK 66m from 2025 and the years ahead. 

“We saw an opportunity within our branch network to reduce the density of branches whilst strengthening the width and depth of the remaining, which gave the workshops a stronger local offer. We learned from this that it was feasible without losing the trust from the workshops and we have gained a confidence internally on handling these kinds of projects,” says Geir Hoff.

Today, MEKO’s well-known brand and workshop chain within Mekonomen provides the leading concepts in the Norwegian aftermarket for spare parts, tools and workshop equipment. 

“We still have untapped potential in taking this even further”

Geir reveals he has received comments and feedback praising the strategy, and the secret behind the success in Norway may lie in the wide MEKO network. 

“It is a strength to be a part of something bigger if you learn to utilize it. The obvious ones are off course economic strength, purchasing power and the market position, the more subtle parts are the total amount of competence and experience that MEKO family has. There are double benefits from this while it one side will make MEKO stronger not having to invent the wheel simultaneously in different markets. The other side is for us operating in the different markets, who will benefit from the learnings made from the ones who have tried or experienced something similar previously,” he says, and adds: “We still have untapped potential in taking this even further.” 

Learning from each other within MEKO seems to be a recipe going forward, while maintaining the level of decentralization that the Norwegian operations and other affiliates enjoy within MEKO. 

“I think all of us have a lot of commonalities if we listen carefully and ask curious and open questions, which we then could learn from. And it is not always about copying an act per se, but more of a behaviour, principle or logic. One need to seek advice and be open and curious to other parts, to colleagues in other countries – that’s when you really can utilize the expertise within MEKO.”

MEKO expects to see a rising demand for electric car services in the future

But what about the future? Norway has been hailed as the example to follow when it comes to leading the industry towards a more sustainable automotive industry. In 2020, electric cars overtook petrol and diesel-powered cars in new sales – with Norway being the very first country to achieve such a feat. With the future very much an unwritten script, the transformation not only in what type of fuel cars run on, but in tech in general – Geir looks towards it with optimism.

“Currently, the increasing number of electric cars is having a modest implication on our core business – the main implication today is the rising demand among mechanics for this type of competence and skills. However, as the electric car population becomes older, we expect to see an increased demand for more electric car related spare parts and repairing of them. This will be a business opportunity for us,” he says.

In addition, there are more unanswered challenges than just what type of fuel cars could or should run on.

“The electrification needs to be seen together with the other shifts in our market as a business opportunity. To maintain and improve our market lead position, we need to become more end user orientated, increase our revenues from services and broaden our platform. In a transformative market, there will always be great opportunities and high potential,” Geir Hoff concludes.

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