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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Repco – the one to watch in 2013

Ioleen Barbao, Repco HR Manager & John Caldwell

The 2012 Retail Employer of the Year Awards were announced and Repco emerged as the clear winner of the large category. Run by Retailworld Resourcing, the Awards are voted by the public and are audited by independent accountants.
Not knowing a lot about the Auto industry I decided to explore a little further and I was beyond impressed with what I found.
Established in 1922, Repco now has a whopping 283 stores and is now a household name.
A string of ownership changes has led to more funding and expertise to enable growth. Repco was publically listed until 2007 when it was sold to the private equity firm Unitas Capital who own Exego Group, one of the largest after-market parts companies in Australia, with turnover in excess of $1bn.
Recently, a 30% sale to US based Genuine Parts Company for US$150 million has put Repco in an even stronger position. Exego Managing Director John Mollar was reported saying that it would be used to strengthen an already strong balance sheet to enable further growth.
Originally more of a trade based organization, Repco has now been in the retail space for many years. Recognising the financial gains and the ability to offer the customer more choice and easier access, Repco has engineered itself from 80% trade and 20% retail, to now a roughly 60/40 split. The goal is to soon be at 50/50.
Just having stores wasn’t enough. They wanted the best stores with the biggest range. So over the past 2 years Repco Australia has dramatically changed the landscape of the Australian automotive parts industry. By investing a whopping $50 million in their ‘More Parts for More Cars’ program they have added over 900,000 more parts.
MD John Moller says, “This game changing initiative will enable Repco store staff to say yes more often, and enable you, our customers, to spend less time looking for parts and more time on more cars, by calling Repco first. More Parts for More Cars, that’s why Repco is number 1 in Auto Parts.”
But money aside, it would appear that Repco’s biggest secret to success, evident in the recent award win, is creating a dynamic and people focused culture.
I recently met with Repco Human Resources Manager Ioleen Barbaro, to discuss the winning formula. Whilst it has been a long road and lots of work a humble Ioleen says the key factor in the Repco culture is FUN! They try to promote a fun culture and really want people to enjoy coming to work.
The past few years for the Repco HR team has been about ensuring that they don’t miss any avenue. With the focused change to retail they have created a much more diverse workforce and actively try and recruit different personalities to engage with all manner of customers.
The best part about creating this work force and culture is that it is top driven. Ioleeen says that the MD and the entire senior leadership team are very team focused and are always looking at ways to make Repco an employer of choice.
Ioleen was thrilled that the teams got behind the award and at one point even had stores calling saying they couldn’t access the site showing more than a keen interest in voting!
MD John said the award win “is a huge accomplishment andwould not have been possible if it weren’t for our employees recognizing their workplace and choosing tonominate Repco as their choice Employer!”
With such a strong people focus and a clear and focused growth strategy I am certain that Repco is the retailer to watch for big things in 2013.
- John Caldwell

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