Sustainability in the Automotive Aftermarket in South Africa

The South African aftermarket sector has exhibited strong growth since the early 2000s and is forecast to grow at 5.5% annually until 2023. While tyres remain the largest generator of revenue in the industry with 11 million tyres sold per year, service parts are next in line, followed quite closely by accessories.  It is in these spaces that the industry plays a part, leaving a footprint and creating a legacy. 

Sustainability can be viewed as the intersection of the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profits, each of which are equally important and interdependent. This nested-dependency is critical, and it is important that the industry applies it to every aspect of doing business. We see this in a number of ways: –

People, those that either affected or are influenced in any manner by the organization, are the contributors to its on-going success. Human capital is a company’s scarcest resource, which is why the industry tends to lean towards an employee-focused culture that is punctuated by inclusive leadership. Satisfying customer and supplier experiences are the result of up-to-date industry intelligence, continuous dialogues and managed expectations. The affected communities become beneficiaries of shared skills, knowledge and targeted upliftment projects.

The manner in which organisational operations impact the Planet, both positive and negative, cannot be ignored. This generally encompasses the carbon footprint, disposal of toxic and hazardous materials, and the (mis)use of natural resources such as water. The industry counteracts outcomes such as these through the efficient logistical arrangements of its delivery fleet, creating catchment facilities for water for re-use in wash-bays and ablution facilities, and the installation of passive lighting.

Sustainable Profits remain one of the main reasons businesses exist. They are also the impact that the organization has on the economy. Key items encompassed therein are paying fair taxes, supporting fair trade, creating decent employment, being part of wealth creation and incubating innovation. Automotive aftermarkets utilize their revenue and generate their profits in a positive way through procuring locally where possible, disassociating from unscrupulous service providers, and supporting empowering.

Even though this industry is undergoing noticeable changes in its landscape, evolving customer expectations, and accelerated technological innovation, these changes only serve to highlight just how the value of business must be unlocked and its sustainability created, maintained and supported.