Woods Accident Repair Centres

Commenced in 1955 by Laurie Woods, Woods Accident Repair Centres (“Woods”) is the largest privately owned accident repair network in Australia, with 19 branch locations, and two mechanical engineering workshops, located throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area.

A longstanding relationship

In a tough and competitive industry, Woods is the only major chain of accident repair centres to have survived and flourished.

Pitcher Partners Melbourne has a longstanding relationship with Woods extending back prior to the formation of the firm, with the business being looked after from the beginning by a young accountant, and now National Chairman, Don Rankin. 

Over its long history, Woods has built up a close professional association with, and earned the respect of, some of the major insurance companies including RACV and AAMI, with whom it has forged strong and lasting relationships. 

During the 1980’s, Laurie Woods sold part of his ownership share, and the network became part of Repco Auto Parts, a retailer of car care products, parts, accessories and tools  At that time, the network expanded its number of branches in both Melbourne and interstate, invested in equipment and changed its trading name to Woods Accident Repair Centres, adopting the iconic triangle logo, which is now so familiar around metropolitan Melbourne.

In 1987, the stock market crashed and Repco and Woods were sold to Pacific Dunlop. Two years later in 1989, three of the Woods’ Directors were given the opportunity to purchase a much bigger and better business by entering into a buy-back of the business from Pacific Dunlop. 

Pitcher Partners was involved in the structuring and due diligence for the subsequent buy-back from Pacific Dunlop.

In 1996, as a result of their longstanding relationship, Woods were invited by the RACV to take on the role of managing their new, large format repair centres. Pitcher Partners again assisted in a trusted advisor role at this time, undertaking the financial analysis and modelling of the potential outcomes of the contract.

In 2000, following the end of its contract with the RACV, Woods was approached by Ford US, who ultimately purchased a minority share in the business, with a plan for national expansion and a buyout in 2005. In 2003, due to a change in management in the US, Ford sold back the business to two of the Woods’ Directors. Once again, Pitcher Partners provided substantial advice and guidance in relation to both the purchase by Ford and the buy- back by the Woods’ Directors.

As part of its ongoing positioning as the largest operation in the Australian Smash Repair industry, Woods and their major strategic partner, Pittsburg Plate and Glass ( “PPG”) are currently going through a major re-branding. The re-branding process will involve a revised logo and new uniforms for the 19 panel shops and two mechanical businesses. The new livery will be appearing throughout metropolitan Melbourne over the next twelve months. 

Some time ago Woods made the decision not to expand through franchising, but to grow the business in other ways.

As part of this decision, two of the Woods Directors, Dennis Smart and Ray Leigh, have stepped back from the day to day running of the business and taken on more strategic roles, giving management a much greater input into the running of the business.

Pitcher Partners Melbourne was closely involved at every major stage in Woods’ development and look forward to assisting them as they move forward on the next stage of their journey.

This article was first published in Contact issue 69, in December 2009.

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