Case study Autodistribution

The company

Autodistribution is a vertically integrated distributor of automotive parts to the French and European independent aftermarket. At the time of TowerBrook’s exit, Autodistribution operated an extensive independent garage affiliation program in France, offering its 350 participants a strong brand identity, training, communication, web tools, sales tools and technical support.

Why we invested

  • Strongly positioned player in profitable segment of the automotive industry
  • Opportunity to reduce costs and improve profitability
  • Potential to develop and implement comprehensive operational improvement plan
  • Balance sheet restructured to accommodate growth potential of company
Year of investment


Sales (LTM to September 30, 2015)



Exited, 2015

Building a better business

In investing in Autodistribution, TowerBrook sought to create a more valuable asset by restructuring the company’s finances, rebuilding its organization, securing the jobs of its workforce and restoring its market position.

In 2009, following complex negotiations with multiple stakeholders, an equity injection from TowerBrook allowed the company to avoid imminent liquidation and continue trading, providing continuing employment to approximately 6,000 people.

In partnership with management, a comprehensive Profit Improvement Plan was developed to support Autodistribution’s transformation into a focused, efficient and profitable business.

A key feature of this plan was the decentralization of decision-making to help create a more entrepreneurial environment. The re-energized business was able to attract first-class executive talent to further strengthen the management team.

Building loyalty was also a priority for Autodistribution. Independent distributors became shareholders in the company, and employee and trade union relations improved markedly and rapidly.

Transparency with stakeholders was further improved with the introduction of new systems for reporting and compliance covering numerous aspects of the business, from rebates to product quality and customer service.

The success of the initiatives undertaken during Tower Brook’s ownership was reflected in an 8x oversubscribed bond offering in 2014 that allowed Autodistribution to further strengthen its market position and helped pave the way for exit by TowerBrook.

Our thesis was that Autodistribution’s industry segment operates with little or no correlation with new car sales and benefits from stable volumes through the cycle.

At the time of TowerBrook’s investment in Autodistribution, industry research estimated that although spare parts only accounted for 10% of auto manufacturers’ revenues, they represented more than 50% of their profits.