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Unipart Group
Type Private
Industry Logistics
Founded 1974
Founder(s) British Leyland
Headquarters Cowley, Oxfordshire, England
Key people John Neill
John Egan
Products Logisitics, Supply Chain, Consultancy
Revenue £1.01 billion (2012)[1]
Divisions Unipart Logistics
Unipart Automotive
Unipart Rail
Website http://www.unipart.co.uk

Unipart Group is a multinational logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and consultancy company headquartered in Cowley, Oxfordshire, England. It has operations in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan and works across a variety of sectors that include automotive, rail, marine and leisure.

Originally part of the state-owned conglomerate British Leyland, Unipart is now employee-owned and is one of the largest privately owned companies in the UK.


Unipart House, Cowley. Headquarters of Unipart Group, and some subsidiaries.

Unipart as it operates its business today was formed in 1974 by John Egan. State-controlled British Leyland put him in charge of their Unipart parts and service division, let him make it independent and brand it Unipart. The use of the Unipart brand to market service parts for British Leyland vehicles was similar in concept to Ford's Motorcraft brand. The next year British Leyland was nationalised. Egan left in 1976 to join Massey Ferguson.

Then 29-year-old John Neill replaced Egan and he continued Egan's policy of providing the same logistical services to its parent's competitors as well as to British Leyland. In 1987 Neill led a management buyout of Unipart in part financed by a wider employee buy-in. Unipart is now 70% owned by its workforce and pension fund, the other 30% is held by sympathetic institutions.

Unipart's traditional promotion of its services was by motorsports sponsorship, from 1978 with the Triumph Dolomite Formula 3 team, and from 1980 in Formula One, first with Ensign and then with McLaren until 1983. Once Unipart were completely independent they returned to Formula One sponsorship, with Tyrrell and later with Jordan Grand Prix.

In 2011 50.1% of Unipart Automotive parts business was sold to H2 Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum.[2]

Today Unipart provides logistics services across a series of sectors promoting them as "The Unipart Way" to both deliver and consult for a diversity of clients.

Operating divisions[edit]

Unipart Logistics warehouse, Cowley.

There are three main operating divisions within the Unipart Group, these main operating divisions are Unipart Logistics, Unipart Manufacturing and Unipart Rail and within these are various business units.

  • Unipart Logistics: Has three main business units within the operating division which are;
    • Unipart Aftermarket Logisitics (UAL) whose main clients are Jaguar Cars, Land Rover, London Taxis International and Mobis. All but the latter are former British Leyland subsidiaries.
    • Unipart Technology Logistics (UTL) whose clients include BSkyB, and Vodafone. There are a number of smaller business units of Unipart Logistics which include Unipart Aerospace and Defence Logistics and Unipart Security.
    • Unipart Expert Practices: This business unit sits within the Unipart Logistics division and represents the company moving from simply focusing on its own internal improvement activities to providing its services to external clients in the form of Management and supply chain consulting based on lean principles and continuous improvement. UEP has worked with a number of sectors including Health,[3] Government[4] and Finance.[5]
  • Unipart Manufacturing: This division produces original equipment components and is a first tier supplier to the automotive industry, supplying a customer base which includes British, European and Japanese vehicle manufacturers. It also designs, manufactures and services heat exchangers.
  • Unipart Rail: This division is located in the North of England with sites in Crewe, Doncaster and York and provides engineering and logistic solutions to the rail supply chain. The company also has several other brands which it has acquired and trades under such as Dorman who specialise in LED Lighting.

The Unipart Way[edit]

"The Unipart Way" is a system of lean manufacturing tools and techniques, with a guiding philosophy to reduce waste or activities which do not add value. Based on the companies learning from Honda and study into the Toyota Production System, it is the name the company has given to its methodology. It involves a process of continuous measurement which is designed to lead to a reduction of wasteful activity, thereby ensuring the best deployment of time and resources.

The methodology is not without its critics. Most publicly, the work done at HMRC was censured by PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, who stated, "By reducing staff to nothing more than machines on the whim of consultants, the department is undermining the morale of staff who face imminent job cuts and office closures."[6]

HMRC argue that Unipart's work has produced significant benefits for them. An HMRC spokesman said: "Lean is all about offering a better service to our customers and staff. It is a key element in HMRC's plan to provide improved service and meet efficiency targets. Staff are asked to organise their desks when shared with colleagues to avoid clutter and to make sure they have everything set up to do their job effectively. Any suggestion that staff are restricted to a pen and cup on their desk is simply not true. Rather than making work boring and repetitive, staff are being invited to work with their managers to improve the way tasks and systems are developed.".[6]

The independent NAO report of 6 July 2007 describes the purpose of Lean as "to streamline key work processes to eliminate duplication or reworking, improve accuracy, increase productivity, and reduce lead times in processing cases", and it predicts savings to the taxpayer of £440 million by 2011 "the majority of which will be achieved through implementing Lean."[7]

Corporate social responsibility[edit]

Unipart has strong links with the local community and education, supporting many community initiatives and organisations. Unipart has a traditionally strong affiliation with motorsport. In 2006, the company teamed up with Nigel Mansell and his sons, Greg and Leo, in a sponsorship deal in support of Nigel's sons' careers in Formula BMW.[8]

As the Unipart Way philosophy is wedded to removing waste Unipart has long held to a reduce, re-use, recycle agenda, driving improvements in its environmental performance.

Currently Unipart also supports a pilot initiative to support 11 young people who were struggling at school. They now attend classes within Unipart daily and are supported through work experience. By being treated as trainees rather than pupils their attendance records and academic progress have been transformed.

Unipart also supports an initiative to give homeless people supported and paid employment. With nearly 10,000 employees, Unipart people play an active role in their communities as councillors, special constables and as volunteers for numerous charities and organisations.

Unipart supports Business in the Community's Per Cent Club principles aiming to distribute one per cent of its pre-tax gross profits in goods or in kind each year.

In 2008 Unipart Group achieved overall Gold status in the BitC CR Index and Platinum status for its environmental performance.


  1. ^ "Unipart Group announces 2012 Q4 results". SHD Logistics. 17 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Gold, Steve (23 March 2011). "How a logistics firm drives change through Sherwood Forest". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  4. ^ "A Lean approach to the public sector". Wired. 
  5. ^ "Unipart's Profits Double Despite fragile economy". CILT. 
  6. ^ a b "Customs staff in desk clutter ban". BBC News. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2006. 
  7. ^ "National Audit Office report (HC 605, 2007–07)". Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  8. ^ "Unipart back with Mansell". 16 February 2006. 

External links[edit]