27 Mar 2015

Business Day
27 MAR 2015

Ethos today announced an investment into AutoZone, the largest and fast growing, privately-owned automotive parts aftermarket retailer and wholesaler in Southern Africa.

AutoZone’s footprint spans 151 wholly-owned retail and wholesale branches and 37 member-owned franchise branches across South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Botswana. Launched in 1999, the business was originally part of JSE-listed Super Group, and subsequently acquired in 2010 by RMB Corvest, together with Zico Capital and senior management in an LBO. 

Christo Roos, Ethos partner said of the transaction: 

“This attractive acquisition sits firmly in line with Ethos’ strategy of investing in differentiated high-growth propositions.  Through our partnership with AutoZone’s experienced management team, we anticipate growing the business geographically, while improving customers’ experience via an expanded retail footprint. Together, we have already identified immediate opportunities and have embarked on a rigorous programme to accelerate AutoZone’s growth strategy.” 

Wayne Loraine Grews, CEO of AutoZone added: 

“We are excited about this next chapter in AutoZone’s growth story.  Private equity shareholders are not new for us; we had an excellent, supportive relationship with RMB Corvest alongside Zico Capital and we relish the opportunity to collaborate with a firm such as Ethos, given their excellent track record of investing for growth in South Africa.  Together, I believe we will make good on the opportunities ahead of us, to the benefit of our business, shareholders, staff and most importantly, our customers.” 

Three Ethos investment professionals, including partner, Christo Roos, will join the AutoZone Board, in line with Ethos’ role of actively partnering with management to shape and implement growth strategies. 

AutoZone has a base of over 680 world-class suppliers contributing to a massive range of over 75 000 active parts.  Strongly underpinned by the DIY, DIFM (‘Do it yourself’, ‘Do it for me’) and cash channel customers, as well as independent spares retailers, AutoZone branches are supported by a well-developed, best practice supply chain as well as excellent merchandising and support services. 

Ethos will hold a controlling interest in AutoZone, with management and BEE investors holding the remainder. 

Debt for the transaction was provided by Barclays Africa Group Ltd (Barclays Africa).  “Flexible financial facilities have been negotiated and are in place to ensure our envisaged growth strategy,” added Christo Roos. 

AutoZone is the fourth investment Ethos has concluded through its R7.9 billion, Ethos Fund VI.  Earlier in 2014, Ethos announced the acquisition of South African logistics supplier RTT, which joined Kevro and Waco International in Fund VI.