Australian automotive parts company Bapcor is already considering buying more Kiwi businesses as it edges closer to full ownership in its takeover of Hellaby Holdings.

The ASX-listed firm will also look at opening retail outlets in this country, though any move won't be immediate.

The Victoria-based firm launched its takeover bid for Hellaby last September with its sights on the holding company's automotive arm, which owns a string of businesses including more than 50 BNT outlets around New Zealand.

Hellaby directors urged shareholders to ignore Bapcor's initial offer of $3.30 per share and a war of words erupted between both sides in the following months.


Bapcor, Australia's largest automotive aftermarket parts supplier, raised its offer to $3.60 per share in December and lifted its stake in Hellaby to 50.1 per cent earlier this month.

As of this morning it held 88.6 per cent and is edging closer to 90 per cent - the point which would let it enforce mop-up provisions to take Hellaby private.

Bapcor recently installed four new directors on the Hellaby board, with its chief executive Darryl Abotomey now the NZX-listed firm's chairman.

The Bapcor boss was in New Zealand last week learning about the different Hellaby businesses and hopes to begin expanding here in the next few months.

"Already, for example, the automotive and other parts of the business have got some growth options and acquisitions. We'll consider those pretty quickly and if we think it's the right thing to do we'll move on those pretty rapidly as well," Abotomey said. "I can say there are some I would be very keen to pursue ... in the automotive side."

Bapcor has a network of retail outlets in Australia and asked whether the company would launch a similar operation in New Zealand, Abotomey said:

"It's certainly something we'd look very carefully at."

Some of Bapcor's Burson trade stores across the Tasman have a "showroom" where customers can walk in and buy car products over the counter, he said.

"We'd look to see where we can put those in New Zealand attached to the existing BNT stores," he said.

Another potential move could involve setting up a retail store that catered to the four-wheel drive market.

" [With] the high proportion of four-wheel drives and SUVs that are now being sold, there's an opportunity for those sorts of things we think in New Zealand," he said.

Any such move was not going to happen overnight, however.

Abotomey was confident Bapcor would get to the 90 per cent threshold and would then delist Hellaby.

Although it was originally expected that the Australian firm would sell the resources and footwear arms of Hellaby, Abotomey said that depended on what they discover about those business units.

Hellaby owns Hannahs and Number One Shoes and Abotomey said he'd learnt a lot about footwear during his time in New Zealand.

That unit was a "very solid business", he said.

"We've got to look at it and say, 'What is the right thing to do here?'. Long's possible that it's not part of our group but at this point in time it is and we'll do what we need to do to see it profitable."