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News from the industry

October 11, 2010
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World’s largest carwash chain sold by JP Morgan
Global private equity firm The Carlyle Group announced that it has agreed to acquire the IMO Car Wash Group from JPMorgan Partners (JPMP), a leading private equity firm.

IMO, the European and global market leader of carwashing companies, manages 857 carwash sites in Europe and washes over 34 million cars each year.

IMO currently operates conveyor system carwashes, which can clean 90 cars an hour and has a strong presence in thirteen countries across Europe, including the UK and Germany, as well as France, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal and Eastern Europe.

Mace seeks carwash buyer for total sale
On Jan. 30, Mace Security International, Inc. announced they had sold an exterior-only carwash in West Chester, PA, for approximately 15 times its annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Vice President of Marketing & Investor Relations Eduardo Nieves, Jr. said that the company, which has been seeking out interested buyers since December 2004, is looking to sell all 48 of their carwash properties in a combined sale.

“We are looking to sell them all in one lump sum,” Nieves said from his Florida office, “but we are listening to all proposals and all offers.”

He also said that prospective purchasers are being paraded around the properties “all the time,” through the services of an investment banking firm that Mace has hired to help with the transaction.

Previously, the company announced it had entered into a lease-to-sell agreement with Eagle United Truck Wash, LLC for Mace's five truck washes.

Sam's Club carwash projects will increase
A new 140,000-square-foot Sam's Club in Columbus, OH, currently offers a tire center and gas station with a future carwash in the works.

Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart, is a members-only club with 564 U.S. clubs and 102 international locations with 46 million members.

A Wal-Mart Shareholder's Souvenir newsletter said additional ancillary services, such as carwash facilities, will remain on the forefront of Wal-Mart's expansion efforts.

“All the specialty divisions continue to experience tremendous growth,” Gregg Spragg, executive vice president of operations for Sam's Club said. “More clubs are being built to include fuel stations and carwashes.”

Several industry sources claim that Sam's Club is in the process of negotiating agreements with carwash manufacturers and suppliers, looking primarily at in-bay automatic carwashes.

Jewel-Osco merger casts doubt on carwash plans
The recent acquisition of Albertson's, Inc., (Nasdaq:ABS), including Jewel-Osco, the Midwest Division located in Boise, ID, by Supervalu (Nasdaq:SVU) could affect Jewel-Osco's move into the carwash market.

The deal elevates Supervalu to the second-largest conventional supermarket chain in the U.S. behind Kroger (KR).

Haley Meyer, spokesperson for Supervalu, said that it's too soon to conjecture about what effect the acquisition will have on the company's carwash plans.

“As far as expansion plans on any of the programs that they (Jewel-Osco stores) have – it's really too early to speculate,” Meyer said. “The deal will not close until this summer.”

Meyer stated that the company plans to continue to be successful and expand their presence in the grocery retailing industry; a goal that may put competitors, such as Wal-Mart, on the offensive.

Splash accident revives Jeep acceleration debate
On Sunday, Feb. 19, an accident at a Hamden, CT, Splash Car Wash location resulted in the death of a customer and the injury of a carwash worker.

Information provided by Splash Car Wash indicated that they believe the accident was caused by a mechanical failure in the Jeep.

In an open letter posted on the Southeastern Carwash Association Web site, Doug Newman, past president of the Connecticut Carwash Association and International Carwash Association (ICA) board member from 2003-2005, called the ICA to action, “The Jeep Grand Cherokee Sudden Acceleration problem is systemic and has been occurring at carwashes since the mid 1990's,” Newman said. “I believe the ICA Board has a fiduciary responsibility to take action here and to do so swiftly.”

“Well, our action is to use this very tragic incident to once again remind our operators to be careful when a Jeep comes into the carwashing environment,” Mark Thorsby, executive director of the ICA, said in response. “You know, Jeeps have to be handled very carefully in a carwashing environment.”

Sonny’s partners with Gaudreau on CarWash College™
Sonny's Enterprises, Inc. announced their sponsorship of the creation of the CarWash College;™ the purpose of which will be to provide information, education and training to the carwash industry.

Sonny's has contracted with Steve Gaudreau, 20-year veteran carwash industry consultant and trainer, to develop the curriculum and serve as the first President of CarWash College™.

Gaudreau, who previously operated POWER Inc.'s CarWash Institute®, will have the task of creating an independent organization that will serve new and existing carwash operators, as well as provide support for customers of Sonny's Enterprises.

Paul Fazio, president of Sonny's said he sought out Gaudreau for the project because of his longtime expertise.

“I am very excited,” Gaudreau said. “It's amazing that a manufacturer would allow me to set up an independent organization and support the development of such a project. It say's a lot about Sonny's and the Fazio family.”

A complete catalogue of programs was unveiled at the CarWash College™ booth at the International Carwash Association Car Care World Expo 2006.