Uni-Select Inc. was founded in 1968 thanks to the vision of 12 Québec entrepreneurs who decided to join forces to form a purchasing group for aftermarket parts.
The name Uni-Select was chosen to reflect the founding members’ main motivation in creating the buying group:
•To form a united group, working together to build and strengthen the Corporation, while maintaining harmonious and well-disciplined collaboration with suppliers.
•To group together a selective cohort of partners focused on delivering excellence.
During this decade, Uni-Select went from 29 members (independent wholesalers), 69 suppliers and sales of approximately $6 million
to a network of 70 members operating 105 stores with sales of approximately $100 million.
During the 80s, Uni-Select launched the Uni-Pro® banner for its repair shops and the Auto-Plus banner for its members (wholesalers). It also expanded its operations outside of Québec with the opening or the acquisition of distribution centres in Toronto (Ontario), Moncton (New Brunswick) and Calgary (Alberta).
To meet the growing needs of the automotive service provider, it opened a training centre for repair shops. It also completed the acquisitions of IPA as well as Acklands in Québec and Ontario. In 1985, Uni-Select became a publicly traded corporation.
The 90s were marked by Uni-Select’s entry into the US market through its strategic alliance with the Association of Automotive Aftermarket Distributors. This decade was also highlighted by over 15 acquisitions, mainly in Canada.
Uni-Select launched many programs to support its customers such as the Specialist®, Auto Parts Plus® and ProColor banner programs.
Uni-Select continued its growth through acquisitions by completing nearly 70 acquisitions of various sizes. Its sales grew from $580 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion in 2009. The most important acquisition during that period was Middle Atlantic Warehouse Distributor (MAWDI) in 2004, which allowed Uni-Select to become a major North American player in replacement parts distribution.
In 2008, Uni-Select acquired Beck/Arnley Worldparts, a leading specialty supplier of premium, quality import parts for cars, light trucks and SUVs.
In 2011, Uni-Select acquired FinishMaster Inc. In doing so, it became the largest independent paint, coatings, and related accessories distributor in North America. Uni-Select has since completed numerous synergistic acquisitions of smaller paint distributors.
In 2015, Uni-Select sold its Uni-Select USA, Inc. and Beck/Arnley Worldparts, Inc. assets to an affiliate of Icahn Enterprises L.P. Uni-Select centered its activities by keeping FinishMaster’s distribution of automotive paint and related products in the United States as well as all distribution activities in Canada, where it has a leading position in the industry. Uni-Select has an exciting future ahead.
Third growth pillar
In August 2017, Uni-Select completed the acquisition of The Parts Alliance, a leading and growing automotive aftermarket parts distributor in the United Kingdom.
The transaction provided Uni-Select with an attractive point of entry into a new geographic market in consolidation with high growth and accretion potential and a third growth pillar to complement its segments, Canadian Automotive Group and FinishMaster US.