Meet the CEO of Kwik Fit
Kwik Fit is one of the UK’s largest and most recognisable car servicing and repair companies, providing speedy service seven days a week. You’ve probably seen one of its distinctive centres in your town or city, with its strongly recognisable blue and yellow branding and conveniently positioned centres.
It has more than 600 centres across the country and Ireland, in addition to 200 dedicated van-based technicians that can fit tyres wherever its clients are. Kwik Fit’s garages offer a range of affordably priced car repair services including tyre fitting, brake maintenance and repair, exhaust work, MOT testing, air conditioning recharge and windscreen repair.
The automotive company is the leading fast-fit supplier of tyres in the UK, with more than 600,000 products in its stock catalogue. In addition to value-priced tyres, Kwik Fit stock leading manufacturers including Pirelli, Goodyear, Michelin, Dunlop and Continental.
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Kwik Fit History
Kwik Fit began life in the city of Edinburgh back in 1971, when Sir Tom Farmer decided to open his own car repair centre. The company grew quickly as Farmer acquired small automotive repair centres and transformed them into Kwik Fit garages. In 1973, he took the plunge and decided to open the first international centre in Holland. By 1999, the Kwik Fit empire had grown to an impressive size, with more than 570 additional centres across mainland Europe.
The automotive repair industry has largely been self-regulated since it emerged, but Kwik Fit wanted to ensure that its centres all followed one way of operating. In 1981, the Kwik Fit Code of Practice was introduced, setting out the service experience customers expect from its technicians, managers and administrative staff that remains in place today.
To ensure it was being implemented, in 1996 Kwik Fit started a research programme that aimed to call all customers within 48 hours of their visit to make sure the service they received was up to standard.
Kwik Fit was one of the first retailers in its industry to make use of technology to help it manage stock more efficiently. A multi-million-pound investment in touch-screen technology meant that in 2002, an innovative online catalogue and stock search system was rolled out across all of Kwik Fit’s centres.
Many companies recognise the importance of investing in their youngest staff, and Kwik Fit is no different. In 1990, it received a National Training Award for the quality of its staff training, before launching its apprenticeship scheme one year later. In 2015, an Ofsted inspection ranked Kwik Fit’s apprenticeship scheme as outstanding and the automotive repair giant announced that it would be taking on more than 200 apprentices per year following this.
Kwik Fit has even dipped its toe into the world of insurance, launching Kwik Fit Insurance Services in 1995, which was sold to Ageas UK in 2010. Customers who take out a policy with Kwik Fit Insurance will receive discounts on their services across the Kwik Fit group, offering them impressive savings alongside affordable insurance.
In 2011, Kwik Fit was acquired by Japanese giant ITOCHU Corporation, which operates a huge range of finance, construction, production and energy companies across the globe, as well as other tyre retailers and fitters.
Today, the Kwik Fit Group has grown into one of the world’s largest independent automotive parts, repair and replacement centres, having established a good presence across Europe over the years. It comprises Kwik Fit UK and Kwik Fit Netherlands, as well as Kwik Fit Fleet, which is a major supplier to many hire, leasing and fleet sales companies across the UK. It’s also the parent company of Tyre City, a dedicated tyre fitting centre which offers a huge range of affordable tyres for cars, motorbikes and vans of any make and model.
Kwik Fit’s business model has received plenty of praise over the years from both satisfied customers and impressed industry insiders. It has taken home upwards of 80 awards in its lifetime – both industry awards that recognise the quality of its services and customer awards that celebrate the excellent way it provides them.
Kwik Fit CEO
Yasuyuki Harada was appointed as the CEO of European Tyre Enterprise, which encompasses Kwik Fit’s UK and European operations under parent company Itochu. He earned the promotion following former head Kenji Murai’s change of direction within parent group Itochu, which saw Murai take on the role of COO of Itochu’s Forest Products and General Merchandise division.
The person at the top of Kwik Fit’s UK operations is Mark Slade, who has been in his role as UK Managing Director since February 2018. Prior to that, he had sat on the board of the European Tyre Enterprise Limited, part of the Kwik Fit group, since 2012 as the group’s Chief Financial Officer. As he is the Managing Director of just Kwik Fit, his role will involve making practical decisions for the company on a daily basis, particularly for its retail department, which he states is the area he spends most of his day managing.
Kwik Fit Franchise
Kwik Fit welcomes franchisees across Europe and is on the hunt for both master franchisees to introduce the Kwik Fit name to new countries and centre franchisees to expand in countries where it already has a presence. You’ll need plenty of automotive knowledge, preferably having owned and operated your own garages in the past and have located premises that are suitable for conversion into a Kwik Fit centre.
Unfortunately, Kwik Fit doesn’t seem to have any franchise opportunities in the UK at the moment, instead focusing its franchising efforts on areas where its presence is less well-known.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©
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