Archive | August, 2012

ECP INVESTS IN NEW WAREHOUSE FOR COLLISION REPAIR PARTS

ECP INVESTS IN NEW WAREHOUSE FOR COLLISION REPAIR PARTS

The 141,000 sq. ft. site in Swadlincote

The 141,000 sq. ft. site in Swadlincote

Euro Car Parts has invested in a new storage facility for its collision repair products.

The 141,000 square foot site in Swadlincote has been secured for ten years with the company. ECP says a unique agreement with building owners GE Capital means the company can outfit the building to its exact requirements. There is also space for a mezzanine floor should ECP need it in the future.

Swadlincote is only a few miles down the road from ECP’s National Distribution Centre in Tamworth. Managing Director Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia says the move is proof of ECP’s growth over the past two years: “The two main drivers behind the move were to meet the needs of our fast-expanding network and also to provide a dedicated storage facility for our LKQ-backed collision repair programme.”

“Supplying crash repair hard parts is a whole new area for us and our Platinum Plus range is set to revolutionise the sector.”

Alongside the announcement ECP has also confirmed the locations of its next branches. Crewe, Southport, Rotherham and Kettering are all on the map as are new locations in Wales.

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GSF announces significant increase in exhaust stock

GSF announces significant increase in exhaust stock

GSF has increased its exhaust stock

GSF has increased its exhaust stock

GSF has announced a significant increase in its exhaust stock portfolio.

Working with Bosal, GSF says it will now support an increased range of replacement exhaust systems, catalytic converters and accessories like brackets, clamps and mountings.

To support the move GSF says its new warehouse in Birmingham will become the hub of its logistics operations. The site is already equipped to handle daily deliveries to GSF’s 74 UK branches.

The plan is already springing into action, as the site already holds some 15,000 exhaust systems and catalytic converters with a retail value of over £500,000.

GSF Commercial Business Manager Mark Higson said: “Bearing in mind the unique and random nature of exhaust design and sizes, we have applied a great deal of thought to the most effective way of warehousing the products, ensuring its compatible with delivering the highest level of customer service.”

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Sinemaster to offer technicians upsell training

Sinemaster to offer technicians upsell training

Training opportunities are easy to access

Training opportunities are easy to access

Sinemaster is hoping to get more technicians used to the art of up-selling thanks to a new series of training courses.

The Iris distributor is running a series of training courses in partnership with training providers Training 2000 at its facilities in Blackburn and Loughborough. The aim of the courses, says Sinemaster, is to equip repairers with the skills to identify up-selling opportunities.

Managing Director of Sinemaster Mark Leeming said” “This new program of training is designed to add even greater value to our bodyshop customers by boosting their profitability.  We recognise that every member of staff within the bodyshop has the potential to up-sell a repair opportunity to the motorist.”

Training 2000’s Head of Automotive Frank Harvey added: “Our training courses are designed to ensure repairers gain maximum benefit from their training investment. The aim of Bodyshop Up-Sell Training is to change the mindset of repairers to treat the repair as an opportunity and to present to the motorist the different services the bodyshop can provide every time.”

The courses will run from August until November.

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AN END TO MODIFIED CARS?

AN END TO MODIFIED CARS?

Fears that a new EU proposal could potentially outlaw modified cars and put an end to aftermarket performance parts are being taken with a pinch of salt by others.

The proposal, billed as a ‘roadworthiness package’ aims to eradicate dangerous and un-roadworthy vehicles by forcing vehicles to comply with the standards they had when they were type approved.

One interpretation of the legislation means the bill could make aftermarket performance parts, upgraded components and non-OE units illegal.

Both the IAAF and IGA are urging members of the trade to keep calm and are consulting with the government on the exact meaning of the proposal. The IGA’s Stuart James says the bill needs to have clearer definitions: “To be able to draw up a set of guidelines like this they [the EU] need to define what a modification is so that the MOT tester can identify modified parts on the vehicle. How would they get that information prior to inspecting the vehicle?”

Meanwhile motorists have taken to Internet forums to voice their concerns. Several online e-petitions have already been set up by performance enthusiasts and modified car owners to stop the proposal.

What does this mean for the trade? Leave your comments below.

Read more about this story in the September edition of CAT Magazine.

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CAT retail lives: Thame Autoparts

Ian Wagstaff dons his apron for a day behind the tills

Thame Autoparts' front signage

Thame Autoparts' front signage

“Some bastard has nicked my dust caps,” says a customer. “The kids take them for their push bikes,” states Joe Curran knowingly.

It is market day in the small Oxfordshire town of Thame. This used to be Autoparts’ busiest day, then it became the quietest. “There is no pattern any more,” says Martin Brenchley who has worked there for six years.

Autoparts Thame has just opened its doors and already the wisdom of stocking toys is bearing fruit. A lady is on the doorstep requiring new plates to replace a cherished number. She brings with her two small children. They are all over the toys, strategically sited near the entrance, and the lady is unable to leave without buying at least a novelty torch.

“You know when somebody wants a number plate; they have a sheaf of documents with them,” observes Martin.

The shop is well stocked

The shop is well stocked

Within 20 minutes of opening the shop is busy. Joe and Martin will be holding the fort all day as owner Tim Parsons is ill. The next visitor is taking advantage of Autoparts’ varied stock with a request that has nothing to do with cars. He needs a set of precision screwdrivers.

It is not long before the first delivery of new stock arrives, a mix of air fresheners, jump leads, GB stickers and warning triangles from local supplier Car Care Limited. There will be more deliveries throughout the morning including one of de-ionised water. The water here is hard and, even if the need to top up batteries is not what it once was, there is still plenty of ironing being done in Thame.

Included in the load is a stack of energy drinks for the small cabinet near the front of the shop. This one is branded ‘Pussy’. “We’re the only people who will take it,” quips Joe.

The jovial atmosphere is nothing unusual. In two days time, Thame Town Council will present the shop with its ‘Service with a Smile’ award. “Do you have a warning triangle,” asks a customer.

“I’m afraid I do,” replies Martin. “Well you might have one less in a minute.” It’s all a bit like that. Advice is also forthcoming. An inquiry about refurbishment of alloy wheels is met with a leaflet and a recommendation to contact the local ChipsAway.

But there's always room for more!

But there's always room for more!

Mid-morning sees the day’s only customer for Autoparts’ higher unit price diversification: firearms. He has to show evidence of being over 18 before he is allowed to leave with a Walther CP88 CO2-powered pistol. This is solely for target practice. “Not enough poke to damage an animal,” observes Joe.

So it continues throughout the morning with a veritable rush at about 11am. Another toy sale, in this case a sword, is made when a mother – around half of the customers seems to be women – buys a can of spray paint. A glance in the window makes you realise why, to some, Autoparts has become known as ‘the Nerf shop’.

A few days previously, Tim bought a half pallet of Wellingtons. Joe thinks this was a bad idea. Just before lunchtime, a family seeing the £7.99 boots in a bin outside, buys three pairs. By the end of the day seven pairs will have been sold; Joe admits he may have been wrong. With sales of car accessories falling, diversification is the way that Autoparts stays afloat.

The afternoon is quieter but there are still deliveries from FPS and Euro Car Parts. There are even traditional sales such as two diesel filters ordered for the next day.

Wellies sell just as good as wipers

Wellies sell just as good as wipers

Towards the end of the shift there is another flurry of activity including an elderly gentleman who buys two sets of a toy bow and arrows. Finally, there is a second request for valve caps. “My neighbour keeps telling me one is missing.” It’s been an average if eclectic day.

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A1’s A12U celebrates record sales

A1’s A12U celebrates record sales

There is still room for expansion at the site

There is still room for expansion at the site

A1 Motor Stores is celebrating record sales from its A12U distribution centre.

The 13,000sqft warehouse has increased its sales by almost 25 percent on last year. The site stocks over 4000 SKUs and gives A1 members access to special imports as well as fast turnaround stock.

A1 says the warehouse has enabled it to increase its bulk purchasing power, and give its members more benefits thanks to re-negotiated terms with suppliers.

The group also confirmed that there is still space in the warehouse for expansion. A1 Motor Stores CEO Derrick Lawton said: “We are delighted that we have achieved record sales despite a tough economic climate, this is testament to just how important the A12U warehouse is to our members.”

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GSF LOSS IN ASA RULING

GSF LOSS IN ASA RULING

GSF must not broadcast the advert again

GSF must not broadcast the advert again

GSF has been told not to broadcast one of its radio commercials again following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority.

A GSF radio advert claiming that customers ‘could save up to 70 percent on main dealer prices’ was ruled to be in breach of guidelines as the comparison was misleading.

GSF argued that a large proportion of the components it was comparing were OES, if not OEM. While GSF said it also used cheaper, ‘slightly lower “aftermarket” quality parts’, it expected franchises to do the same to compete and used a tool to track and compare costs.

The ASA ruled in favour of the complainant and said: “We noted from the comparative information supplied that GSF were 70% cheaper than the main dealers for some OES parts. We noted that the number of occasions on which they were 70% cheaper increased significantly when they included their own aftermarket products in the comparison.

“However, we noted that the comparison tool did not identify whether the dealers’ price was for an OES or aftermarket quality part. We understood that main dealers predominantly used OES parts and we therefore considered it likely that the tool had compared a number of GSF’s aftermarket quality parts with main dealer OES parts. We understood that the quality of aftermarket parts could vary and we therefore considered that, by relying in part on a comparison of aftermarket with OES parts, the ad was likely to mislead.”

The ruling brings to light what perception those outside the trade have of the term ‘matching quality’ and whether its continued use as a marketing technique by suppliers is possible.

The ASA said in its ruling: “We considered that listeners would not necessarily expect the comparison to be based on identical branded products, but that they would expect the products compared to be substantially equivalent in terms of quality.”

GSF commented: “We remain disappointed at the decision of the Advertising Standard Authority in this matter. GSF supplies a wide range of high quality parts to the trade and private motorists through 74 branches and a highly successful e-commerce platform. These parts are sourced from the same premium manufacturers that supply VM replacement items. Furthermore, within the GSF range there are a number of OE replacement parts which are priced to sell to the retail public at 70% less than the typical VM Dealer price. We remain committed to providing our customers with significant savings on high-quality replacement products.”

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Schaeffler’s Bob Carter celebrates 50 years of service

Schaeffler’s Bob Carter celebrates 50 years of service

Bob Carter

Bob Carter

Schaeffler’s Bob Carter is celebrating 50 years in the automotive industry.

The Territory Manager, who represents Schaeffler’s LuK, INA and FAG brands in the North East of England and Scotland will reach the milestone in September – a month after his 65th birthday.

“My Dad told me to get a job when I left school at 15 and I ended up at Dunn’s which was a small franchised dealership,” he recalls “It was some time before I was let loose on a car. My first jobs were to make tea, clean-up and pass the mechanics their tools.”

Bob started a five-year apprenticeship at 16 which saw him gain his City and Guilds Full Technological Certificate in Automobile Engineering among other qualifications.

After passing his exams Bob became an expert in Jaguars and Rovers and joined a larger dealership in Sunderland, eventually working his way up the ladder to become Service Manager.

Bob also worked at MG Rover, however when the business went into administration in 2005 he moved to Schaeffler to join fellow MG Rover employee Malcolm Short.

“I have really enjoyed the past few years and many of my colleagues and customers have become good friends,” says Bob who has assured customers he intends to stay with Schaeffler for the foreseeable future.

Reaching 50 years of service is a milestone for any industry, we wish Bob the very best of luck for the future.

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Autopromotec revamps website ahead of show

Autopromotec revamps website ahead of show

The new site promises greater interactivity

The new site promises greater interactivity

Italian aftermarket show Autopromotec has revamped its website to encourage more visitors to the biennial show.

The new website at autopromotec.it is designed to make navigation easier and better show off what the Bologna show, next held from May 22 to May 26 in 2013, has to offer.

Besides information on the event, visitors can access releases, photographs, videos and an on-line catalogue.

From September a new area of the website will go live with the goal of making it as easy as possible to visit the show by allowing flights and discounted accommodation to be booked online.

Other new elements which Autompromotec hopes will encourage travelers from the UK include the largest ever area dedicated to diagnostics and the chance to set up appointments, through the website, to explore export opportunities with other attendees.

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CAT garage lives: AB Performance

Andy's heritage is in motorbikes

Andy's heritage is in motorbikes

In the world of motorcycle-engine derived cars and kit vehicles, there are only a handful of names worth mentioning. One of those names is Andy Bates.

A former motorcycle sidecar racer and fireman, Andy had a successful racing career until a horrific accident at Oulton Park left him with a broken spine and no hope of racing again. To add insult to injury, Andy’s 15-month recovery meant he couldn’t rejoin the fire service on active duty.

Following a long and painful recuperation, he then turned his attention to motorcycle engines. He bought a single Honda Fireblade engine for £400. After stripping, cleaning and re-tuning the unit, Andy sold it to a local racer who went on to win his championship. Word of Andy’s engine spread, and with the profits from that first unit he bought two more, then four. AB Performance was born.

Alongside supplying and fitting engines, Andy has made a name for himself in supplying and manufacturing many of the specialist parts that go into making kit cars powered by motorcycle engines: “I realised that there was nobody doing these parts, the special sumps and systems that these cars need. So I started to make them. We became a one-stop bike shop.”

Some readers will have seen his appearance on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den programme alongside his home grown racer, the Sabre. Andy won investment from Peter Jones and Duncan Banatyne thanks to his passion and impressive business plan.

The workshop is always busy

The workshop is always busy

“I’d been working hard for two years on the Sabre project, and we needed to publicise the finished car. I was working in the early hours of the morning and a window came up on the computer with an application for the show. I thought the worst they could do was make me look stupid on national television.”

Following his appearance Andy’s phone went off the hook. He had to install three extra phone lines just to keep up with the amount of calls coming in, while the AB Performance website went from 500 views per week to 260,000 in just a few days. It’s fair to say that business was booming.

These days Andy can afford to be picky over the types of work he does. He doesn’t get involved with MOTs or many of the day-to-day jobs workshops will come across. “My real passion is with the track day cars and racers. I can’t do with the red tape involved with the road cars,” says Andy. “For example I hate strangling an engine so hard to meet emissions standards that it doesn’t run properly, just so we can get a tick in the book.”

With the stresses a lot of his customers’ cars are put under on the track, Andy’s fabrication work needs to stand up to the rigors of motorsport. It certainly seems to do the job. In ten years of business Andy says he’s only had four warranty claims.

Andy's Sabre is well underway

Andy's Sabre is well underway

“If you charge peanuts, you can’t afford to do favours for customers. If you buy an engine from me and it goes wrong, I’ll take responsibility for it. If there’s no money in the bank because you’re not charging what you should, you can’t afford to do that. You’ve got to charge proper money. I’ve learnt that you don’t have to be the cheapest to win, you’ve got to be the best.”

The workshop itself is a 5000 square foot treasure trove of motorsport wonders. There’s the Sabre, which former F1 race engineer Nick – the only other technician in the business – is prepping for testing at Snetterton racetrack, but also an off-road buggy Andy is modifying for a customer who only has the use of his right arm following an accident.

Andy’s passion, and his determination for his business, harks back to his racing days: “When you race, you race until you physically don’t have the scrap metal to repair the sidecar, or the wheels to put on the bike. I’ve seen so many people give up easily – I wasn’t going to be one of them.”

Andy Bates

Andy Bates

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