PLANT

Uni Select to close locations, cut 600 jobs in US restructuring

The company will focus on large distribution centres by opening two regional centres as it closes 12 smaller locations.


MONTREAL – Uni-Select Inc. is restructuring its US operations by eliminating about 600 jobs and closing dozens of stores and more than one-third of its distribution centres.

“Once it is fully implemented, we will be a stronger player in the automotive aftermarket distribution activities and generate a substantial growth in earnings,” CEO Richard Roy said during a conference call Thursday.

The company said it will cut 400 more positions on top of 214 already eliminated in recent weeks.

So far Uni-Select has shut 11 of the 48 stores it plans to close overall along with one of 12 distribution centres slated for the chopping block.

It plans to close an additional 30 stores and a second distribution centre in the third quarter, with the rest of the reorganization to be completed by the end of the year.

The moves are a result of a slowdown in the aftermarket business that prompted a review of strategic alternatives that considered all options, including a sale of the US business. The goal is to save US$30 million a year in costs.

The company said it remains committed to the US and Canadian automotive aftermarkets and expects to grow its presence in both the mechanical and collision repair sectors.

Uni-Select also said the initiatives will help to reduce its debt by $40 million this year, increase market share and make acquisitions. Roy added that he expects to announce a new president of its US automotive business shortly.

The changes Thursday are in addition to a network optimization plan launched last August that realized US$20 million in annual cost savings. However, those benefits were offset by lower sales.

Uni-Select’s presence in the US has grown over the past decade through more than 70 acquisitions.

The company will focus on select large distribution centres by opening two regional centres as it closes 12 smaller locations. It has already moved its national distribution centre from New Jersey to Tennessee.

The changes will leave the company with 21 parts distribution centres, including nine regional centres and 12 smaller centres that provide daily service to urban markets. It also has four distribution centres for its FinishMaster paint and Beck/Arnley engine and brake businesses.

It will also invest US$8 million to improve the efficiency of a dozen distribution centres.

About US$10 million of the annual cost savings will be realized this year, an additional US$15 million in 2014 and the remaining US$5 million in 2015.

The changes are expected to reduce annual sales by US$70 million and result in US$45 million in one-time costs.

Uni-Select is a distributor of replacement parts, equipment, tools, accessories, paint and related products for motor vehicles in North America.

©The Canadian Press