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Unipart Group
Type Private
Industry Logistics
Founded 1974
Founders British Leyland
Headquarters Cowley, Oxfordshire, England
Key people John Neill
John Egan
Products Logisitics, Supply Chain, Consultancy
Revenue £1.01 billion (2013)
Net income -£6.1 million
Employees 967 (HQ only)[1]
Divisions Unipart Logistics
Unipart Rail
Unipart Manufacturing

Unipart Group is a multinational logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and consultancy company head-quartered in Cowley, Oxfordshire, England. It has operations in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan and works across a variety of sectors that include automotive, rail, marine and leisure.

Originally part of the state-owned conglomerate British Leyland, Unipart is now partially employee-owned and is one of the largest privately owned companies in the UK.[2]


  • History 1
  • Operating divisions 2
  • The Unipart Way 3
  • Corporate social responsibility 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Unipart House, Cowley. Headquarters of Unipart Group, and some subsidiaries.

Unipart as it operates its business today was formed in 1974 by John Egan. State-controlled British Leyland put him in charge of their Unipart parts and service division, let him make it independent and brand it Unipart. The use of the Unipart brand to market service parts for British Leyland vehicles was similar in concept to Ford's Motorcraft brand. The next year British Leyland was nationalised. Egan left in 1976 to join Massey Ferguson.[3]

Then 29-year-old John Neill replaced Egan and he continued Egan's policy of providing the same logistical services to its parent's competitors as well as to British Leyland. In 1987 Neill led a management buyout of Unipart in part financed by a wider employee buy-in. Unipart is now 70% owned by its workforce and pension fund, the other 30% is held by sympathetic institutions.

Unipart's traditional promotion of its services was by motorsports sponsorship, from 1978 with the Triumph Dolomite Formula 3 team, and from 1980 in Formula One, first with Ensign and then with McLaren until 1983. Once Unipart were completely independent they returned to Formula One sponsorship, with Tyrrell and later with Jordan Grand Prix.

For the past 30 years, Unipart has been making products and sourcing product under the Unipart brand for sale to Britain’s car owners.[4] In 1999, Unipart purchased the Partco network which consisted of branches largely located on industrial estates providing parts into the automotive aftermarket.[5] Partco was re-named Unipart Automotive.

Over the years, Unipart Group rapidly expanded out of its original core business into wider logistics markets such as rail and the health service.[6]

In 2011 51% of the Unipart Automotive parts business was sold to H2 Equity Partners. The remaining 49% of Unipart Automotive was retained by Unipart Group. A condition of the sale was that Unipart Group exercised no control over the business.[7]

H2 previously purchased a controlling stake in another European automotive aftermarket parts distribution company called Sator Holdings, the market leader in Benelux and Northern France.[8] It was hoped that H2's controlling interest in Sator would eventually boost the number of parts offered by Unipart Automoitive in the UK from 90,000 to 160,000.[9]

Under its new ownership, Unipart Automotive was granted a restricted license by Unipart Group to use the Unipart brand on a limited range of wholesale outlets and a tightly controlled range of automotive car parts in the UK.[10][11]

In April 2013, H2 sold Sator Holding to Unipart Automotive’s main rival Euro Car parts for £176 million.[12]

In July 2014 Unipart Automotive entered into administration with the loss of more than 1200 jobs. Some branches and 361 staff were sold to Andrew Page and the Parts Alliance.[13] Andrew Page, which has 93 branches and more than £170 million in turnover, is a member of The Parts Alliance, a buying and distribution group.[14]

Unipart Group is now working with Andrew Page and the UK Parts Alliance to ensure that British used car owners are still getting Unipart products. Unipart Car Care Centres, which are based in towns across the UK, will continue to be supported and will continue to deliver the same high standard of service to their customers.[15]

Operating divisions

Unipart Logistics warehouse, Cowley.

There are three main operating divisions within the Unipart Group, these main operating divisions are Unipart Logistics, Unipart Manufacturing and Unipart Rail and within these are various business units.

  • Unipart Manufacturing: This division produces original equipment components and is a first tier supplier to the automotive industry, supplying a customer base which includes British, European and Japanese vehicle manufacturers. It also designs, manufactures and services heat exchangers.
  • Unipart Logistics: Unipart Logistics' There are a number of smaller business units of Unipart Logistics which include, Aerospace, Defence Logistics, Security and Expert Practices consulting business units
  • Unipart International: With operations based in mainland Europe, the Gulf and the USA, Unipart International provides services and products to the truck and bus aftermarket, the collision parts industry and the industrial and automotive heat exchange markets.
  • Unipart Rail: This division is located in the North of England with sites in Crewe, Doncaster and York and provides engineering and logistic solutions to the rail supply chain. The company also has several other brands which it has acquired and trades under such as Dorman who specialise in LED Lighting.

The Unipart Way

"The Unipart Way" is a system of lean manufacturing tools and techniques, with a guiding philosophy to reduce waste or activities which do not add value. Based on the companies learning from Honda and study into the Toyota Production System, it is the name the company has given to its methodology. It involves a process of continuous measurement which is designed to lead to a reduction of wasteful activity, thereby ensuring the best deployment of time and resources.

The methodology is not without its critics. Most publicly, the work done at HMRC was censured by PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, who stated, "By reducing staff to nothing more than machines on the whim of consultants, the department is undermining the morale of staff who face imminent job cuts and office closures."[16]

HMRC argue that Unipart's work has produced significant benefits for them. An HMRC spokesman said: "Lean is all about offering a better service to our customers and staff. It is a key element in HMRC's plan to provide improved service and meet efficiency targets. Staff are asked to organise their desks when shared with colleagues to avoid clutter and to make sure they have everything set up to do their job effectively. Any suggestion that staff are restricted to a pen and cup on their desk is simply not true. Rather than making work boring and repetitive, staff are being invited to work with their managers to improve the way tasks and systems are developed."[16]

Corporate social responsibility

Unipart has strong links with the local community and education, supporting many community initiatives and organisations. Unipart has a traditionally strong affiliation with motorsport. In 2006, the company teamed up with Nigel Mansell and his sons, Greg and Leo, in a sponsorship deal in support of Nigel's sons' careers in Formula BMW.[17]

Currently Unipart also supports a pilot initiative to support 11 young people who were struggling at school. They now attend classes within Unipart daily and are supported through work experience. By being treated as trainees rather than pupils their attendance records and academic progress have been transformed.

Unipart also supports an initiative to give homeless people supported and paid employment. With nearly 10,000 employees, Unipart people play an active role in their communities as councillors, special constables and as volunteers for numerous charities and organisations.

Unipart supports Business in the Community's Per Cent Club principles aiming to distribute one per cent of its pre-tax gross profits in goods or in kind each year.

In 2008 Unipart Group achieved overall Gold status in the BitC CR Index and Platinum status for its environmental performance.


  1. ^ "Unipart ‘continues to grow’ despite £6.1m pre-tax loss". 19 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "2014 Top Track 100". Sunday Times. 24 June 2012
  3. ^ Bremner, R (30 July 2014). "Thousands of parts for millions of cars – remember Unipart’s heyday". Autocar. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Bremner, R (30 July 2014). "For the past 30 years, Unipart has been making products and sourcing product under the Unipart brand for sale to Britain’s car owners and that will continue.". Autocar. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Verity, Andrew (1 May 1999). "Partco agrees to Unipart's £179m cash bid". The Independent. 
  6. ^ Morely, C (20 April 1999). "Unipart in bid to buy Partco". Birmingham Evening Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Parkin, D (24 July 2014). "Andrew Page sales top £200m following Unipart Automotive deal". Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Is Unipart tilting the right way?". CAT Magazine. 24 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "50.1% stake in Unipart Automotive to be sold to private equity firm". CAT Magazine. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Marlow, Ben (24 July 2014). "Unipart Automotive collapses with 1,400 job losses". The Daily Telegraph. 
  11. ^ "Unipart Group issues clarification". Automotive Purchasing. 9 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Anthony, Chris (15 July 2014). "Is Unipart Automotive being lined up for sale to Euro Car Parts?". Tyrepress. 
  13. ^ Angela Monaghan (24 July 2014). "Car parts supplier Unipart goes into administration". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Car parts firm in administration". MSN News. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Parts Alliance and Andrew Page acquire 33 Unipart Automotive branches from administrators". Fleet News. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Customs staff in desk clutter ban". BBC News. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2006. 
  17. ^ "Unipart back with Mansell". 16 February 2006. 

External links

  • Unipart Group Official site

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