Opening the doors
The first Kwik Fit centre opened in Edinburgh with rapid growth in the UK following – principally by acquisition. In 1973 the first overseas centre opened in Holland and by 1999, Kwik Fit had acquired a further 570 centres on mainland Europe through the acquisition of Speedy in France and Pit Stop centres in Germany. These companies are also specialists in exhausts, brakes, suspension, tyre and lubrication services.
Practice makes perfect
In an industry that relies largely on self-regulation, the Kwik Fit Code of Practice was a unique initiative that is still practised today. Launched in 1981, Code covers the service experience the customer can expect from our centres. In 1996 a continuous research programme started that involves calling 8,000 customers every day to ask about the service received, within 48 hours of their visit to a Kwik Fit centre.
Making technology count
Kwik Fit was one of the first retailers to introduce an integrated stock and sales system. Kwik Fit’s Management Action Terminals were introduced into all centres in 1981 which were linked to suppliers allowing the automatic re-ordering and replenishment of stock. Further enhancements followed and a multi-million pound investment in touch screen technology was launched in 2002. Online catalogues, customer history and easier stock search facilities have all helped improve the customer service experience in centres.
Becoming a household name
The famous ‘You can’t get better than a Kwik Fit fitter’ commercials were first shown on TV in 1984. Five different commercials were made in this series with the last being shown on TV in 1989. The equivalent of £10m was invested in this campaign over 5 years. The ‘dancing fitters’, rhyming couplets and now familiar music jingle all helped to make Kwik Fit a household name with levels of prompted awareness reaching more than 80% for the first time in 1985.
The freedom of choice
Recognising the importance of providing motorists with a choice beyond Kwik Fit, in 1984, 16 centres were acquired in Scotland and renamed ‘Budget Tyres and Exhausts’. Further local acquisitions followed with Charlie Browns, Chessington Tyres, Ebley Tyres, Humphries Tyre Sales and Autospeed all being added to the network in the period 1995- 1997. They continue to trade under their own local identity whilst benefiting from centralised Group buying, logistics, IT, finance and administrative support.
Company car drivers welcome
Kwik Fit Fleet was formed in 1987 to serve the specialist needs of the company car driver. Using Kwik Fit’s network of centres and Kwik Fit Mobile’s fleet of mobile tyre fitting vehicles they are responsible for maintaining more than two million vehicles. In 1997 the Fleet Tyre Management Programme was introduced. This enabled fleet customers to outsource their vehicle tyre maintenance for a negotiated fee per vehicle. For more information about our Fleet Services visit our Fleet section.
National training rewarded
In 1990, Kwik Fit achieved a National Training Award. This was followed in 1991 with the launch of the Kwik Fit Apprenticeship Programme. Further training modules were added ensuring that trainees could achieve City and Guilds qualifications in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair. All training is carried out at one of Kwik Fit’s five training centres, the first of which was opened in 1981. This commitment was also recognised when Kwik Fit received the ‘Investor in People’ Award in 1993. From 1999 Kwik Fit has participated in the government’s Modern Apprenticeship Scheme.
In 1995, Kwik Fit Insurance Services was launched, offering Kwik Fit branded motor insurance on behalf of a panel of leading insurance companies. All policyholders received an AutoSave Card that entitled them to preferential discounts across the Kwik Fit Group. In 2010, Kwik Fit Insurance was sold to Fortis Insurance – now Ageas (UK) Ltd but the company continues to work in partnership to offer in-centre benefits to its customers.
In June 1999, The Ford Motor Company acquired the Kwik Fit Group for more than $1billion. A decision by Ford to concentrate on its core business led to the sale of Kwik Fit to CVC Capital Partners in 2002. CVC Capital Partners are a leading private equity provider in the UK and Continental Europe.
A winning team
Kwik Fit has received more than 50 business and customer service awards. These have included the Institute of Transport Management’s Millennium Award for service to the transport industry, the National Insurance Age Award for the Best Insurance Company in the UK for Customer Service, The Daily Telegraph Award for Customer Service and the BT Special Award for the best use of telemarketing in providing customer care.
Strategy for Growth
In 2005, Kwik Fit was acquired by PAI partners, a leading private equity company based in Paris. The company embarked on a successful ‘Strategy for Growth’ which saw diversification into new product areas such as MOT and servicing provision. During this period the Group sold its German subsidiary Pit-Stop and also sold Kwik Fit Financial Services to Fortis UK.
Acquisition by the ITOCHU Corporation
In June 2011, ITOCHU completed the acquisition of Kwik Fit. ITOCHU was founded in 1858 and has evolved and grown into one of Japan’s leading trading companies. With approximately 130 bases in 68 countries, ITOCHU is engaged in domestic trading, import/export, and overseas trading of various products such as textile, information and communications technology, machinery, energy, metals, minerals, chemicals, forest products, general merchandise, food, construction, realty, finance, insurance, and logistics services, as well as business investment in Japan and overseas.
ITOCHU and its subsidiaries operate various tyre-related businesses globally. In the UK, ITOCHU operates Stapletons (Tyre Services) Ltd based in Letchworth Garden City, a leading wholesaler, which also has its own retail network which includes STS Tyres Pros. In total STS adds 110 new locations to our network of service outlets.
In 2015, Kwik Fit received Ofsted’s highest possible ranking for its apprenticeship scheme and was graded Level 1 (Outstanding) following the inspection carried out in April. Kwik fit has also announced that it would increase the number of apprenticeship openings at locations throughout the country to 200 in 2015.
Response to COVID-19
During the pandemic, many of our customers, both individuals, and organisations, including emergency workers, teachers, and those providing vital community services relied on us to ensure their vehicles remained roadworthy and safe.
We stayed open throughout the lockdowns as a crucial service provider in order to support the NHS and other key workers, adhering to rigorous Covid-19 protocols including minimising contact with customers, increased cleaning and hygiene regimes, and ensuring all staff wore masks and gloves; all while providing the same great service our customers come to expect.
The road ahead
Kwik Fit has made substantial investments in recent years to meet the needs of the automotive industry, and it continues to improve and grow. In the last year, hybrid and fully electric cars have surpassed petrol and diesel models as the most popular next vehicle among most drivers. With over 600 employees trained, Kwik Fit now offers electric and hybrid vehicle training courses, with plans to teach more so that all our service and brake trained staff can continue to provide this service to our customers as they transition to electric vehicles. We now have ADAS calibration capability in a number of centres, ensuring that we can correctly work on vehicles equipped with the most up-to-date safety technology.
Kwik Fit has also made technological advancements within our centres and we are now totally paperless within our workshops where vehicle inspection data is now captured via the use of tablets. Not only does this speed up the inspection process for customers, it also helps reduce the need for printing and our environmental impact, as well as creating a standardised process across our network.