But Ian Carlisle, managing director of Autoglass, said: 'The purchase confirms just how competitive the market is at present, but we still have a very strong position. Most insurance companies recommend us, along with the RAC and AA. Our size, quality and innovation are all reasons behind our leadership and that will not change, nor will our unique pan-European network. We are forward looking and invest in training for our staff and in technology. We have historically specialised in glass and that is really the key to our success.'
Richard Usher, executive director of Auto Windscreens, which was bought by HSBC Private Equity in 1998 during a bidding round which included a show of interest from Kwik-Fit, said: 'I don't for one minute see that this will lead to prices being driven down. After all, we make our own glass, so you can't offer a better deal than that. I would be very interested if this encourages any other manufacturers to follow suit.'