CategoriesCustomer Export

Comline blossoming as an international success story

Comline is an established international brand; it’s trusted and relied on, not just in the UK and Ireland, but around the world. It has an admired track record in impressing and securing new distributors – but what is it about this unique brand, steeped in more than 30 years of history, that catches the eye? To find out, Comline caught-up with Auto Parts Direct’s Neil Greenidge – who is based in Barbados!

Neil had retired after a career as an entrepreneur, sailed off into the sunset and relocated to Barbados; however, he quickly realised that he wasn’t ready to hang up his briefcase just yet!

He said: “This venture actually started when I took my own car to a garage; the mechanic assessed the vehicle and gave me a list of parts that I needed to buy from the local shop – ultimately, buy my own parts!

“This gave me an idea; I spoke to a friend who owns a garage on the island, and it quickly became clear that there was a need for a distributor that would stock and sell parts, then deliver them to garages around the island.

“The Auto Parts Direct model is similar to that of wholesale distributors in the UK; we have a large warehouse and logistics facility, a fleet of vans and drivers that deliver – but it’s a completely new concept in this part of the world!

“In terms of parts, as a new company in Barbados, we needed to stand out – after-all, a company is only as good as its reputation! This stems from quality parts and great customer service. After being referred to Comline, I’m pleased to say that we’ve been able to uphold that philosophy – the brand’s concept of quality products is aligned to ours and what we wanted to sell.”

Comline is a multi-national and multi-site operation, with its global headquarters based in Luton and distribution sites in Greece, Ireland and Spain. These carefully choreographed locations allow Comline to service its network of aftermarket partners – did you know it trades with more than 50 countries worldwide? Of course, one of those is Barbados!

What Comline parts does Auto Parts Direct sell?

Neil claimed that, in Barbados, over recent years there has been a significant number of imported vehicles onto the island from the UK, mainly because both countries drive on the right-hand side; however, despite the influx of European cars, he revealed that the majority of vehicles being driven on the island are Japanese – namely, pick-up trucks, such as the Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux. That said, one of the most popular vehicles is the Suzuki Swift!

With a diverse car parc, which varies significantly in age, Auto Parts Direct stocks a complete range of service kits, including oils and filters, as well as steering and suspension parts covering rack ends, tie rod ends, stabiliser links, brake pads and discs.

Neil said: “The Comline brand has been very well received; Barbados, like Comline, has a history of motorsport with Rally Barbados now in its 65th year, which I think has helped with acceptance. We’re selling a lot of products, in particular, oil, suspension and braking parts. The feedback has been outstanding amongst the general population, as well as car enthusiasts and the motor trade, and long may it continue!

“There is ample demand; as such, the biggest challenge we’ve had is fulfilling orders quickly enough! From ordering to stocking parts on the shelf, the average turnaround time is 12 days. What’s more, we’ve received requests from other territories, like St Lucia, St Vincent and Dominica, and that’s a great sign for the future collaboration between Auto Parts Direct and Comline.”

Comline customer service ticking the boxes

Neil claimed that the car industry in Barbados has suffered with an influx of spurious parts in the past, leading to “two ends of the market” – but with Comline “we’ve brought in a quality product without the consumer having to pay an astronomical price to purchase – it’s the perfect balance!”

He added: “It’s not just the product either; we have access to Comline’s marketing portal, and we’ve been sent videos to help our customers fit products, such as wiper blades and brake discs.

“We have great relationships with Comline’s members of staff too; we’ve shared our car parc data and, in return, they help ‘fill the gaps’ in terms of what product we need to stock and are likely to sell. There have also been instances where we’ve requested a part that Comline doesn’t stock; that information is vital for the brand so it can develop the range and then we can sell the parts!”

While the relationship may be in its infancy and while there may be thousands of miles between the two brands, there is early and justified optimism that Comline is going to make an indelible mark in the Caribbean – in the same way that it has in the UK, Europe and beyond.