Australian parts, tools, accessories, and workshop equipment supplier Burson Auto Parts is celebrating the company’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
The Burson Auto Parts story started in 1971 when Ron Burgoine (the ‘Bur’ in Burson) and Garry Johnson (the ‘son in Burson) began selling auto parts to Victorian automotive workshops from the boots of their cars. The entrepreneurial duo progressed to larger and more heavily stocked ‘cash vans’ as they gained a loyal and constantly growing set of trade customers across the state.
The first Burson Auto Parts distribution store was opened in the Melbourne suburb of Braybrook in 1978 and this heralded the start of a gradual period of solid growth for the small company, which took on more established spare parts suppliers across Victoria. A significant sign of this growth was the 1984 establishment of the first Burson Auto Parts interstate store located in Albury (NSW).
In 1986, Garry Johnson bought out his partner and by the following year was overseeing a strongly performing 15 store network. The key to Burson Auto Parts gaining a strong foot hold amongst the automotive trade was the company’s emphasis on supplying premium quality products to their customers, ensuring supply of locally and globally sourced leading brands.
The company’s steady growth continued and by 1996 the 25th Burson Auto Parts store was opened. Continued demand prompted the company to establish a new, purpose-built head office and 15,000 square metre distribution centre in the Melbourne suburb of Preston.
In the following three years a further 16 stores were added to the Burson Auto Parts network in New South Wales, along with a strong expansion into Queensland when the company acquired 11 Coventry Group stores. The combination of store acquisitions and greenfield Burson Auto Parts locations that followed allowed the company to reach 50 stores in 2004.
The company’s impressive growth continued, identifying key geographical areas of automotive repairer business concentration. Five additional New South Wales stores joined the network in 2006. In next four years came the opening of the Northern Territory’s first Burson Auto Parts store, along with a further 11 South Australian store locations.
By 2011, with more than 80 nationally located Burson Auto Parts stores in the network, the company’s growth had been led and crafted by company Johnson across four decades. Johnson’s small executive management team included Chief Operating Officer Andrew Schram, who spent 34 years by his side, having started in the role of Assistant Store Manager at the first Burson Auto Parts store in Braybrook.
Burson Auto Parts was acquired by Darryl Abotomey and the management team backed by Quadrant Private Equity in October 2011 with the goal of making Burson Auto Parts the number one national automotive aftermarket supplier to the trade.
Under Abotomey’s leadership, another major milestone was achieved with the opening of the 100th Burson Auto Parts store in May 2012. The following year, the company acquired the Brisbane based Precision Auto Spares Group, adding another four stores to the network, accompanied by the opening of an additional eight stores across Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.
In April 2014 Burson Auto Parts become a publicly listed company, making its debut on the Australian Stock Exchange as Burson Group Limited.
By 2015, Burson Auto Parts had become national, with stores located in every Australian state and territory, and the addition of an 8,000 square metre Brisbane based distribution centre to ensure greater interstate store stocking efficiency.
In July 2015, the company acquired Metcash Automotive Holdings, making Burson Australia’s leading provider of automotive parts, accessories, equipment, and service solutions.
In line with the company’s growth plans, in 2016 Burson Group Limited became Bapcor Limited, an acronym of Burson Auto Parts, establishing a new corporate identity that covers Burson Auto Parts and all of the new business segments of the group.
At this point the company expanded into Asia, opening the first Burson Auto Parts store in Thailand. A further five Burson Auto Parts stores have joined the Thailand network as the company continues to grow in the region.
Over the next four years, Bapcor acquisitions substantially increased the Burson Auto Parts automotive component and equipment product range and grew the company’s light and heavy commercial vehicle parts portfolio.
Precision Automotive Equipment, Bearing Wholesalers, Roadsafe Automotive Products, Baxters Auto Electrical and MTQ Engine Systems joined the Bapcor fold in 2016. Tricor Engineering, AADi Australia, Commercial Truck Parts Group, Toperformance Products, Truckline and Diesel Drive also became a part of the Bapcor Group. In 2017 Bapcor acquired the publicly listed Hellaby business in New Zealand which included BNT, a New Zealand trade focussed business similar to Burson, as well as specialist wholesale businesses in Australia including JAS, PAT, Diesel Distributors and Federal Batteries.
Burson Auto Parts became the region’s largest automotive aftermarket specialist company with an unparalleled footprint of trade, specialist wholesale and retail segments across more than 1,100 locations in Australia and New Zealand.
Throughout all of this time, Burson Auto Parts has continued its gradual, customer focussed national growth strategy, reaching 190 stores in October 2020 with record revenue growth achieved during the pandemic disrupted year. The company is on track to reach 200 stores within this financial year and is set to reach a strategic target of 240 stores within the next five years.
“This has been an exciting journey, with a great deal of worry and great achievement against inevitable head winds. Most of all it was a shared journey, initially with Ron Burgoine and then for the greater part with Andrew Schram, Terry Penney and all the staff at Team Burson. It is great to see both the excitement and the growth continue so strongly 50 years down the track,” said Burson Auto Parts co-founder Garry Johnson, who remains a major Bapcor shareholder.
“The Burson Auto Parts story across its half decade history is one of how two Aussies with a good idea, sound automotive technical knowledge and a hard work ethic were able to create a brand with a level of service that has since become synonymous with automotive repairers across the country,” stated Bapcor Limited Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Darryl Abotomey.
“From the humblest of beginnings, this Australian company was able to forge its place against major opposition, with steady and gradual growth for as long as that could be achieved under private ownership. Now as the heart and soul of the Bapcor Group, we are privileged to continue the exciting Burson Auto Parts journey and establish a platform for continued success across the next 50 years,” added Abotomey.
The Burson Auto Parts’ Golden Anniversary will be celebrated together with the company’s dedicated 1,800 team members, 30,000 loyal trade customers and more than 1,000 suppliers through a number of trade promotions and events scheduled to take place throughout 2021.