Scope for widening the automotive aftermarket business is vast – FAIASPDA President
The Federation of All India Automobile Spare Parts Dealers’ Associations (FAIASPDA), set up more than 50 years ago, acts as a catalyst for harmonious relations between motorparts traders on the one side and the automobile and ancillary industries, the Government and the public on the other. The Federation has able to play its role in expressing its views on the trade in issues related to import, export, sales tax, distribution of indigenously produced automobile spareparts and various procedural matters consistent with the policies and has often tried to impress upon the authorities concerned the need for taking necessary steps.
MOTORINDIA caught up with Mr. Hakikat Rai Kapoor, President, FAIASPDA, and Proprietor, Uttam Automobiles, based in Kolkata, who said his Association is well prepared to meet the unprecedented demand for next-generation automotive spareparts in the aftermarket.
Edited excerpts of the exclusive interaction:
Please can you give us a brief background of the Association? What was the objective behind forming it?
This Association was formed more than 50 years ago. Our Founder-member, Mr. P.K. Basu, from Howrah Motors, started it by bringing together all the dealers from various zones under a single umbrella. The primary objective at that point of time was how to flourish this trade (of spareparts) and ensure no traders are facing difficulties in running their business. To put it the other way, no one should be hassled for sales tax, income-tax, or other levies imposed. So by running a body we will be able to assist our members in resolving any issues. The Association steps in for any arbitration-related issues of its members. Also, there is a sense of comradeship that develops among members. Moreover, we facilitate additional business among various traders. If we didn’t have a formidable body operating at an all-India level, it would have been really difficult to depute someone on our behalf to serve our members’ interests.
How many members are part of your Association?
FAIASPDA has been divided into four areas – North, South, East and West. Calcutta (Kolkata) is the founding and mother body member, along with Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi and Madras (Chennai) as the founder-members. The rest are affiliate members. Currently, we have 45 members of different associations all over the country. Calcutta is having 15 members, Madras has 35, Delhi has 18 and Bombay has 12-13 members. It consists of all the stock keepers of all vehicle spareparts. To tell you the total number of members comprising all retailers would be very difficult as the Calcutta Motor Dealers Association itself has 800 registered dealers and the entire East India would be having roughly 10,000 members. Moreover, a greater number of members are getting registered everywhere.
Apart from the interest generated from dealers, we are also proactively approaching unregistered dealers to be a part of the Association. I want to make sure that each and every part of India should be an essential ingredient of the Association. For example, I am taking extra steps to ensure that the entire Raiasthan is also a part of the Association which in all probability will happen.
Can you tell us the specific segments the dealers of your association are catering to? And how much does the CV segment account for?
Although there are some dealers catering to the two-wheeler segment on a small scale, a majority of them are into four-wheelers comprising tractors, passenger and commercial vehicles, six-wheeler and eight-wheeler segments. Our members deal in all brands like Valeo, Cummins, Delphi, Bosch, Minda, etc. While some are into engine parts, others are into chassis parts or ball bearings.
The CV segment accounts for more than 50% of the pie. This is because spareparts of trucks and buses are higher in value and hence competition is less. For smaller vehicles, we have multiple dealers as the spareparts are economical. Having said that, the potentialities for CV spareparts are huge. Apart from auto components, the Association also consists of dealers who are selling (automotive) tyres, batteries, lights, accessories, grease and lubricants. The opportunities for the automotive repairing market are so vast that a lot of unregistered dealers can also become FAIASPDA members.
What is the current scenario of the domestic automotive aftermarket industry?
The current position of the domestic (automotive) spareparts market is not too good. This is majorly because of the ban on 10-15-year-old vehicles providing no scope for retrofitment and hence affecting the spareparts industry very badly. Moreover, it is a challenge for us to convince our customers that we are also selling genuine parts vis-à-vis authorized dealers (of OEMs). Although vehicle sales have improved with the new launches, there will be an unprecedented demand for next-generation parts in the future. As a result, we will also be having a wider range of products for our customers that will motivate us to invest more. But we are yet to see green shoots in the automotive spareparts market. As the automotive market gets hyper-competitive, the number of spareparts dealers will mushroom across the country. Once that happens, the customer will get the opportunity to buy parts at the best possible market rates.
What kind of deliberations are you holding with ACMA to ensure the prosperity for both?
We are regularly holding discussions with ACMA on how to work together to serve each other’s interests. Their members (auto component manufacturers) are actively soliciting dealers to widen their presence in the country. They also seek our feedback on appointing the right channel partners for expanding their members’ distribution base. We are also looking to have ACMA as one of our active members and are in regular talks with them on the issue.
Are you also grappling with counterfeit products which are plaguing the entire automotive aftermarket industry?
There is no doubt that such products are inferior in quality and eating up a large chunk of our business. We have already raised this issue with the Government which is already taking adequate steps to clamp down on counterfeit products coming from countries like China. Moreover, the awareness levels of our customers are going up, leading to a decline in imports of counterfeit products. It will take a year or so for the situation to completely normalize.
As vehicles become modern and hi-tech, are you geared up to sell electronics, safety products and greener solutions?
Yes, there is definitely a move towards a greener revolution in vehicles. If the dealers don’t follow the trend, they will be definitely washed away. So they are evolving themselves and adding electronic items, safety products and greener solutions to sustain themselves in the market. At the end of the day, a buyer prefers to have an entire range of products under one roof.
The automotive industry is going through a massive upheaval. For instance, the leapfrogging of emission norms and the mandatory safety features in vehicles. How are you preparing yourselves with your future course of action?
Yes, you are right. We have to adapt accordingly by bringing in the appropriate products and solutions. We have to be geared up to retail BS-VI specific products too and make the necessary investments. We also have to be proactive in selling safety-related products to our customers. It is very necessary for such products to be readily available in the replacement market. I do hope such products will be freely available in the local market.
Lastly, what are your short to medium-term goals for FAIASPDA?
I would like to take the Association to a much higher level and want to make sure that no State is sidelined under my stint. Although we are an all-India body, we are yet to execute our goals at a country-wide level. My vision is having even a small retailer from any State enrolled with us to be a part of our mission. They should be able share their problems and issues with us so that we can fight for their rights. I would also like to see senior appointments at FAIASPDA from other states so that there is a level playing field.
I had a similar vision when I was the President of the Calcutta Motor Dealers Association and played a key role for its development. I also contributed significantly to build the West Bengal Traders Association. I continued my contribution when I became the chief of West Bengal at the Confederation of all India Traders’ Associations by roping in more members. When my term ends at FAIASPDA, I would like to see my successors also having a similar vision of taking it to phenomenal heights rather than just serving their terms.
An enterprising entrepreneur
Mr. Hakikat Rai Kapoor who took over as President of FAIASPDA recently has an extensive illustrious career.
Son of the late Wazir Chand Kapoor, Mr. Kapoor was born on October 2, 1949, at Ludhiana. After completing B.Com (first year), he started his own automobile spareparts business in 1969 in the name and style of Uttam Automobiles in Kolkata.
In 1968, Mr. Kapoor was presented the Silver Medal by the late Dharam Veer, the then Governor of West Bengal, for Best Cadet in Junior Navy.
Mr. Kapoor was associated with various trade bodies such as the Calcutta Motor Dealers Association, Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations, Confederation of All India Traders West Bengal Chapter and the Federation of All India Automobile Spare Parts Dealers Associations. After serving in various capacities such as an Ex. Committee Member, Hony. Treasurer, Hony. Jt. Secy., Hony. General Secretary, Vice President, etc., he became President of the Calcutta Motor Dealers’ Association in 2007-08, Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations in 2009-11, and Confederation of All India Traders, West Bengal Chapter in 2015, and still continuing.
In 2016-17, Mr. Kapoor also became President of the Federation of All India Automobile Spare Parts Dealers Associations, New Delhi.
He was also associated with various other organizations like the Barabazar Library, Kolkata (oldest in India more than 110 years), Nagarik Adhikar Samity, Central Kolkata, etc.