Archive | June, 2010

ECP opens new national mega depot

ECP opens new national mega depot

Euro Car Parts has opened a new 400,000 sqft national distribution centre in Tamworth – investing £15 million in new stock in the process.

Located off junction 10 of the M42, the centre is in the middle of the UK motorway network and has a major rail-freight terminal less than half a mile away.

With over 103,000 part lines, the centre provides ECP branches across the UK with overnight delivery six days a week.

“This is the largest single investment ECP has ever made,” said owner Sukhpal Singh. “It will improve accuracy and speed when it comes to replenishing branches, giving us maximum reach across the country with minimum journey times.”

The centre, which has a mezzanine, 16 dock levellers and a minimum 12 million eaves height, also benefits from the latest wireless warehouse management technology for efficient monitoring, picking and ordering of stock.

“This centre lays the foundation for future growth and opens up strategic buying opportunities, allowing us to expand products and ranges,” said Singh.

With 12,000 sqft of open plan offices, a training centre and conference room accommodating 100 people, the new building could also become ECP’s new HQ.

Eight more distribution hubs are set to open across the country – each holding 40,000 stock-keeping units and each incorporating training centres for staff.

“This lays the foundation for ECP to become a true national player,” said Singh. With two new branches in Kent and Wolverhampton now up and running, plus another 15 due to open by the end of the year, it is difficult to disagree.

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Service & repair demand to fall 25% by 2015

Service & repair demand to fall 25% by 2015

The number of garages operating in the UK has plummeted by a third in the last 10 years, and the trend is set to continue. That’s according to the latest findings from industry monitor Trend Tracker.

Confirming the suspicions of many in the aftermarket, the report, based on a survey of 17,000 British motorists, charts the falling demand for  car servicing and repair.

The decline appears to be driven by a number of factors, including motorists using their cars less – according to the National Travel Survey, annual mileage fell by 9 percent between 1998 and 2008 – extended service intervals and more reliable vehicles.

Indeed, the report points out that improvements in vehicle build quality are eroding service and repair demand by 3-4 percent every year.

The crisis in the new car market also has a part to play, according to Trend Tracker. The number of cars in use shrank by  almost 1 percent in 2008/09 – the first time the UK car parc fell since the second world war.

All of which has resulted in reduced work for garages. In 1999, there were, on average, 2.04 service and repair transactions per motorist but by 2009, this figure stood at 1.5.

However, the report does have some nuggets that should inspire optimism: while demand for repair work is down, the value of the work has risen. At current prices, the value of the market is up 2 percent on 1999, driven primarily by an increase in labour charges.

And the report also highlights the competitiveness of independent workshops compared to their franchised counterparts. While main dealers have ramped up their prices by 36 percent above inflation since 1999, independents have raised theirs by just 15 percent above the Retail Prices Index.

Furthermore, more motorists appear to be switching their allegiance from their franchised dealer workshop. In 2009, 27.8 percent of motorists used their main dealer for repair work, down from 28.4 percent in 2008. And it seems that, despite their best efforts, the main dealers are not yet making inroads into the four-years plus car market.

Trend Tracker director and analyst Chris Oakham said: “These declining trends in service and repair demand will squeeze providers to the point where we forecast there will be 44 percent fewer service/ repair outlets by 2015 than there were in 1999.”

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IAM gets own BER but garages not out of woods yet

IAM gets own BER but garages not out of woods yet

The independent aftermarket is celebrating after the European Commission adopted a new sector-specific Block Exemption Regulation last month.

With just days to go before the previous competition rules expired, the new BER with supplementary guidelines was passed into law. It came into force on June 1, 2010.

The new rules, which were agreed to by the Commission after three years of intensive lobbying by the pan-European Right to Repair Campaign, are intended to increase competition in repair and maintenance by improving access to technical information for independents and by making it easier to use alternative spare parts.

The rules will also allow the Commission to tackle vehicle manufacturers’ abuse of warranties when they request that cars are serviced only in authorised garages.

Industry commentators welcomed the new rules. However, they warned that the fight for full access to technical information is not yet over.

In order for independent operators to gain access to the information classified as “security data”, they will need to prove they are reputable and undertake not to misuse it.

David Moran, head of Independents at the Retail Motor Industry Federation, told CAT: “What we need to establish through the Commission and the vehicle manufacturers is, what exactly needs to be accredited. Part of this should be about ensuring the safety and security of the information and of the product, but at the moment, it’s a grey area.”

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£75k fine for tyre dumping

Free POS material is available from the TRA

Free POS material is available from the TRA

Tyre retailers and fitters are being warned to get their act together on tyre recycling after nine people were fined almost £75,000 for illegally dumping used tyres.

The warning, made by the Tyre Recovery Association, comes as it launches a major recycling aftermarket and consumer awareness campaign.

The campaign is designed to help garages and retailers sell the recycling fee to customers, explained TRA secretary general Peter Taylor OBE.

“Many motorists do not understand the complex operations and infrastructure that is required to dispose of used tyres in a safe, legal and environmentally sound manner,” he said. “Consequently, many dealers face resentment from customers when they have to pay a recycling fee.”

The TRA has produced a selection of free posters and leaflets focussing on the wide range of uses for recycled tyre materials such as synthetic sports pitches, children’s playground surfaces and fuel sources for cement kilns.

The campaign kicks off in timely fashion with a special World Cup poster.

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Philips’ win lights up aftermarket prospects

X-treme Power outperformed competitors

X-treme Power outperformed competitors

Philips is hoping to boost its kudos in the UK replacement lighting market after winning Auto Express magazine’s headlight bulb of the year award for the fourth time in a row.

Its X-treme Power bulb outperformed competitors in every test. The brand is installed on one in three new cars but has enjoyed less aftermarket success in Britain.

However, Ed Savage, UK manager of Automotive Lighting, said progress had been made since taking an active presence in the UK.

“We are starting to see the results of the expansion of our distribution base in the UK and a more aggressive pricing and marketing policy over the last year,” he said.

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Smallest motor factors left high and dry

newspress warehouse

44 factors have been given a danger rating

The UK’s smallest factors are struggling as the effects of the credit crunch linger, according to a report by Plimsoll.

The analyst has given 44 small motor factor companies a danger rating.

David Pattison, author of the report, said: “Whereas large companies can call on banks and parent companies or cut out loss making parts, smaller companies are running out of cash.

“There are too many small companies chasing too little market. The inevitable is another round of consolidation with large competitors buying small companies at a discount.

“Of the 354 companies with assets of less than £3 million, we have identified 148 as vulnerable to takeover.”

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