The distributor of industrial, automotive and office products posts record quarterly revenue of $5 billion in the third quarter, as it invests more in digital technology and properties.

Genuine Parts Co., a global company perhaps best known for its NAPA Auto Parts brand that it markets online and through stores, scored its biggest revenue gain during the third quarter through its separate Industrial Parts Group.

GPC said its industrial products, which it sells under the Motion Industries brand through MotionIndustries.com and a North American network of branches, increased by 9.9% during the quarter to more than $1.7 billion, outpacing total sales growth of 6.2% and helping the company hit record quarterly sales of $5.0 billion.

More than 1 million parts online

Motion Industries, whose ecommerce site carries more than 1 million parts, sells products ranging from ball bearings and industrial pumps to chemicals and cutting tools to more than 200,000 customers, including original equipment manufacturers and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) facilities.

By comparison, the larger Automotive Parts Group, which includes NAPA and other brands, grew by just over 5% while the GPC’s smallest division, the Business Products Group, grew by less than 1%.

GPC’s Automotive Parts Group includes its North American flagship NAPA Auto Parts business, whose ecommerce sites include NAPAOnline.com, NAPACanada.com and, for Mexico, NAPA Auto Partes. NAPA also operates 57 distribution centers, 6,000 auto parts stores and more than 16,000 automotive repair and auto body shops.

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The Automotive Parts Group also includes Repco, which sells to customers in Australia and New Zealand through Repco.com.au. GPC also sells through automotive retail stores and distribution networks across these markets and in Europe.

The distributor and retailer of automotive, industrial and office products is focusing more on digital operations as it seeks to improve its growth prospects and overall operations, Paul Donahue, chairman and CEO, says.

Sparesbox.com brings new ecommerce expertise

The third quarter marked GPC’s first full quarter with its investment of an 87% stake in Australia-based Sparesbox, which sells auto parts online and which Donahue describes as that country’s “leading online automotive parts and accessories business.” While not material to GPC’s financial results, he adds, Sparesbox’s strength in ecommerce “serves to enhance our understanding of the digital marketplace and grow our sales capabilities in Australasia and potentially across all of our global operations,” he said on a third-quarter earnings call with stock analysts, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.

Donahue added that GPC will continue to invest in digital technology and operations, including expanded omnichannel and cyber security initiatives.

By comparison, sales in its Business Products Group, which consists primarily of its S.P. Richards office supplies unit, increased 0.9%. “This sales decrease primarily reflects the slower sales in our core office supplies and technology categories as well as slower sales with our National Accounts Group,” the company said. “In contrast, our facilities and safety supplies business delivered another quarter of solid results and we expect continued growth from this category in the quarters ahead.”

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GPC’s Business Products Group is comprised mainly of office products distributor S.P. Richards Co., which operates a dealer services portal at SPRDealerServices.com. GPC had planned to merge S.P. Richards with rival distributor Essendant Inc. last year before Essendant accepted an offer to be acquired by Staples Inc. The aborted merger is still the subject of a court battle.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Genuine Parts reported:

  • Net sales increased by 6.2% to $5.02 billion;
  • Automotive products sales increased by 5.3% to $2.8 billion;
  • Industrial products sales increased by 9.9% to $1.73 billion;
  • Business products sales fell by 0.9% to $491.59 million;
  • Net income increased by 3.3% to $227.49 million.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Genuine Parts reported:

  • Net sales increased by 3.9% to $14.69 billion;
  • Net income fell by 1.9% to $612.17 million.

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