Belron faces declining market conditions in many countries, though, a second strong winter in the United States in 2015 helped to bolster business, says Gary Lubner, CEO of Belron, in D’Ieteren’s annual 2015 report.
Belgium-based D’Ieteren owns Belron, which in turn owns Safelite AutoGlass in the U.S.
“The underlying drivers of kilometers driven, speeds, windshield size and road conditions continue to cause a reduction in the breakage rate in all developed markets, with the winter weather offsetting these trends in the U.S. but not in Europe,” Lubner writes in the report.
He says the company has developed new initiatives to combat these challenges, which are then shared across countries.
“For example, Safelite in the U.S. is really leading the way in how we harness the significant new opportunities offered by digital technology,” Lubner explains.
More than 60 percent of Safelite’s online customers now use a mobile device, he points out.
“This is all about providing customers with the opportunity to reach us in the way that best suits them, and we are achieving great success in this area because what we are doing is based on feedback from our customers,” Lubner says. “An example of the progress we are making in this area is the significant increase in the proportion of bookings made online.”
Safelite is also utilizing paid search and “significantly” investing in digital advertising, he adds.
“The business has also put a significant emphasis on developing its social media activity; be that planned activity or fast-time reactive activity to seize opportunities when relevant topics are trending,” writes Lubner. “Unlike traditional marketing, this is all about minutes and hours, not days and weeks.”
Belron is capable of calibrating Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for 95 percent of vehicles equipped with a camera in Europe, according to Lubner.
“[We] are working with our technology partners to reach over 99 percent by mid-2016 and extend into North America and Australasia,” Lubner writes.
Australasia includes the islands of the southern Pacific Ocean, such as Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea.
Expansion in France
Carglass® France has opened 83 new service locations, bringing the total number of branches in the country to 422.
“The thinking behind this was to expand in less densely populated areas with lost-cost mobile branches, such as shipping containers built to accommodate Carglass® activity and in shared locations,” writes Lubner. “Key to this expansion has been a partnership with Total, which has seen Carglass® appearing across the largest petrol station network in France.”
The company also introduced claims management services in the country.
In conjunction with the annual report, Belron also released 2015 financial results. Belron’s sales were up 13.2 percent for the year, including a 4.7 percent organic increase and an 8.1 percent positive currency translation impact.
To view D’Ieteren’s 2015 annual report and more from Lubner, click here.
To view D’Ieteren’s 2015 financial report, click here.