Retailer Pep Boys has stopped selling auto parts and related items at its Richmond-area stores to concentrate on service repairs and tire sales.
The chain closed the retail part at four of its five area stores but still operates the service centers, often attached to the back or the side of its buildings. The fifth location, on Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County, has always been a service-only center.
The retail portion of the four stores closed earlier this month, employees at those stores said. Signs on two area stores also indicate the retail stores have closed.
Company spokeswoman Arianna Sherlock confirmed the retail stores are closed and are focusing on providing automotive service, including both maintenance and repair for individual customers and the area’s fast-growing fleet business.
While these locations "will no longer sell retail parts and accessories as a Pep Boys, it will convert to another retailer, bringing a new level of convenience to our customers," Sherlock said.
She didn't say which retailer would be taking over the space at the local stores.
In March, the company announced it had signed a deal with Advance Auto Parts for that chain to lease the retail space of 109 Pep Boys locations in California. Sherlock said Advance Auto Parts also leases former Pep Boys retail space in other locations across the country.
Pep Boys said in a release in late June that it planned to remodel nearly a third of its existing locations in the second half of this year as part of an alternative use strategy that includes leasing open sales floor space that formerly housed parts and accessories to other retailers.
The Pep Boys was founded 100 years ago and now operates nearly 1,000 stores across the country. The Philadelphia-based chain used to be called The Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack.
But the company has been transitioning to a new format that focuses on the repair part of its business, she said.
In Virginia, Pep Boys has 17 locations, according to the company's website. But the website indicates only five of those stores sell auto parts.
Pep Boys is owned by Florida-based Icahn Enterprises, which is controlled by billionaire investor Carl Icahn. His company bought the chain in 2016.
Icahn Enterprises said in an investor presentation in May that it was in the process of implementing a multi‐year transformation plan that includes operating the automotive services and aftermarket parts retail businesses as separate businesses. It said that it would be exiting the automotive parts distribution business "in certain low volume, non‐core markets."