PHILADELPHIA—As if there isn't enough pep already in the stiff competition for motorists' automotive service dollars, Pep Boys—Manny, Moe and Jack appears to be on the verge of ratcheting it up a bit more. A spokesman for the rapidly expanding auto parts marketing chain told TIRE BUSINESS that within the next 12 months the company expects to begin an experiment with an automotive service-only format.
Pep Boys will most likely test the concept on the East Coast with one outlet that would be easily accessible to the company's Philadelphia headquarters, explained Bill Furtkevic, director of corporate communications. However, he said no decision has been made on whether or not the operation will carry tires.
Speculation about the new concept arose following a Nov. 19 interview with Investor's Business Daily in which Mitchell G. Leibovitz, Pep Boy's chief executive, said he was considering creating service-only locations.
They would join the company's existing concepts of retail supercenters and its smaller Parts USA stores, which carry only parts and accessories and cater to professional installers.
Mr. Leibovitz told the newspaper that the addition of service-only outlets would ``enable us to satisfy the needs of all customers in the auto aftermarket,'' based on their income.
Mr. Furtkevic said he was not sure how many of the outlets the company might eventually establish.
The newspaper article said that for the past 10 years Mr. Leibovitz has increased Pep Boys' number of service bays per store, and plans to keep doing so. That effort comes as the number of service bays nationally continues to decline—due in part to the dwindling number of gas stations offering auto service.
The company's new supercenters typically occupy about 19,500 square feet of space and have 12 service bays—up from six bays in 1986. Pep Boys has a total of 5,000 bays in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Since being named Pep Boys' CEO 10 years ago—the first outsider to head the 75-year-old family-run chain—Mr. Leibovitz has been overhauling the company. According to the Investor's Daily report, the company has seen sales rise nearly 13 percent annually from 1986 to 1995.
Pep Boys' current store tally of 561 includes 502 supercenters and 59 Parts USA outlets, Mr. Furtkevic said.
In October the company announced it had begun supplying tires, parts and batteries to CarMax, a used-car superstore operated by electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc.
If successful, that venture—being tested at CarMax's lot in Charlotte, N.C.—could eventually be expanded to supply CarMax's four other lots and the nearly dozen more outlets it plans to open nationwide next year.