Prime Mover Magazine

AHG: The sleeping giant

AHG: The sleeping giant

WA’s Automotive Holdings Group has long been considered a sleeping giant in the refrigerated transport scene, but with increasing activity in the M&A space and a new divisional CEO, it may not be able to keep a low profile for long.

Bronte Howson, Managing Director of Perth-based Automotive Holdings Group (AHG), a diversified automotive retailing and logistics group that went public in 2005 and is now listed in the prestigious ASX 200, never really made a secret of his objective to create a nationwide cold chain powerhouse under the AHG umbrella.

“Large players compete with a significant structural advantage over smaller players,” he said during an analysts’ briefing in 2014, right after overseeing the $116 million acquisition of the iconic Scott’s Refrigerated Freightways operation. The move saw AHG ascend to the very top of Australia’s refrigerated transport market, with illustrious names like JAT Refrigerated Road Service, Harris Refrigerated Transport and Rand Transport all operating under the one roof, covering the entire coastline from Perth up to Northern Queensland.

And yet, the AHG name itself has not reached quite the prominence in the transport world that it has in automotive retailing, where the company can draw on some 180 car and truck franchises in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand – representing 12 of the 13 most popular passenger vehicle brands in Australia. Even during Rand’s $6.5 million acquisition of the – comparatively small – Toll Refrigerated division in 2012, the AHG name provided all but an administrative backdrop to news about Toll’s strategic divestment.

Given the complexity of the AHG operation, the reason for the Group’s decade-long shadow existence in the logistics space is remarkably simple: Each business added to the group over time rated especially strong in brand equity, so a centralised rebrand may have done more damage than good during the often critical take-over phase.

The full story has appeared in the April edition of Prime Mover. To get your copy, click here.

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