The Chesterfield-based windscreen replacement company had been bought by HSBC Private Equity for £77.2 million in August 1998. With the RAC being the UK's second largest vehicle recovery operation behind the AA and Auto Windscreens the second largest automotive glazing operator behind Autoglass, company bosses say the aim is to transform both operations.
RAC Group managing director Graeme Potts said: 'The RAC's mission is to be a total 'cradle to grave' supplier of services and automotive glazing fits into that quite nicely. We are both strong number twos in our respective marketplaces and we are on a mission to become number ones as soon as possible.' Potts says the transformation was virtually complete adding that there was 'nothing substantial' missing from the company's portfolio of services.'
Auto Windscreens has 161 fitting centres nationwide and a fleet of almost 800 mobile fitting vehicles. Last year the company carried out around 700,000 automotive glass repair and replacements and fitted 32% of all replacement windscreens (443,000) in the UK and counts BT, the Post Office and TNT among its fleet customers and claims to be the UK's largest corporate fleet glass replacement company. This week the company also announced a two-year extension to its police fleet contract and claimed that it was the UK's fastest-growing vehicle glazing specialist having recorded its busiest ever start to the year with volumes 40% up year-on-year.
Potts added: 'Auto Windscreens is a perfect fit with RAC, with both our businesses using highly skilled mobile technicians to provide essential round-the-clock services to private and business motorists. Auto Windscreens is a well-run business with a strong management team. We have brought together two companies with great brand strengths.'
The existing Auto Windscreens management team will remain intact and the company becomes a division of the RAC with managing director Mark Usher joining the motoring organisation's board. Executive director Richard Usher said: 'We have been talking to the RAC for several months but we have also been talking to other organisations.' He said HSBC Private Equity had 'their own reasons for exiting the business'.