The Body Group, parent company of Gerber Collision & Glass in the United States, reported a nearly 20-percent increase in sales for the first quarter, despite what CEO Brock Bulbuck called “the continuing headwinds of the industry-wide shortage of technicians.”
First-quarter sales jumped to $453.3 million, up from $378.9 million in first-quarter 2017, according to the Winnipeg-based Boyd Group.
The consolidator said it added 11 locations in the first quarter.
“The strong results in the first quarter of 2018 reflect our continued execution of both our growth and operational excellence strategies,” Bulbuck said. “We continue to be on track and have a high level of confidence in achieving our long-term goal of doubling our business by 2020 compared to 2015, on a constant currency basis.”
Same-store sales – a key metric – were up 4 percent.
“Despite the continuing headwinds of the industry-wide shortage of technicians, we returned to respectable levels of same-store sales growth in Q1,” Bulbuck said. “We attribute this to a combination of being up against weak 2017 same-store sales comparatives as a result of a mild and dry winter, modest growth in our technician capacity and an increased component of parts sales in our sales mix.”
In its last few quarterly earnings announcements, Boyd Group has mentioned the technician shortage as a significant challenge. This quarter was no exception.
“We continue to work to address the shortage with a number of initiatives, including our recently announced benefit enhancements for our U.S. employees,” Bulbuck said. “And while we believe that these initiatives will prove successful in the long-term, we will continue to be challenged by technician capacity in the near term, including in Q2, where we are up against much stronger 2017 same-store sales comparatives.”
Still, the conditions are ripe for more consolidation in the auto body industry, Bulbuck added.
“In terms of continued growth, we continue to see many opportunities to add new locations and we see the conditions driving continued consolidation and market-share gain opportunities intensifying,” he said. “We continue to be very well-positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.”