Archive | March, 2013

Unipart enlists ‘hairy strikers’ to help with marketing

Unipart enlists ‘hairy strikers’ to help with marketing

From left to right, Hairy Striker - James (Rocket) Long, Freddy Ash, Paul Merson, Matt Le Tissier, Mark Gibson and Hairy Striker - David MorganUnipart has unveiled a new marketing campaign to promote its Car Care Centre network, fronted by football pundits Matt Le Tissier and Paul Merson.

Comedy Sky Sports duo ‘The Hairy Strikers’ will host a series of football and car care challenges between Tisser, Merson and a team of UCCC technicians.

The series is aiming to promote Unipart’s “you’ll find us better” campaign message designed to drive more business to workshops. Consumer research for the campaign revealed that the core UCCC customer was a perfect match for the Sky Sports audience of ABC1 Men over 35.

As well as videos other activities will mean fans can also win prizes like a Samsung HD TV, an iPad Mini and an Xbox 360. Two football season tickets are also up for grabs.

Marketing General Manager Stuart Sims said: “Aligning ourselves with Sky Sports is the perfect fit to achieve our target objectives for the campaign. Its audience has a real passion for sport, notably football, along with the majority of British men who own cars. We want to leverage the relationship with Sky to deliver activity that resonates with the target audience by getting them involved and engaging with the UCCC brand.”

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partsThe Institute of the Motor Industry is calling on factors to consider accreditation to improve their efficiency and profitability on the back of a recent update of their ATA Parts Adviser assessment.

Recent changes to the ATA Parts Adviser accreditation ensure that it is more relevant than ever by responding to industry demand for a more customer-orientated approach. These include customer and profit retention, achieving more first time fixes and reducing policy loss. The changes to the assessment have been successfully piloted by Dingbro and CES and will be rolled out from April.

The IMI scheme is designed for advisors who ideally have two years’ industry experience and/or hold a nationally recognised qualification with 12 months post-qualification experience. There are two specific ATA accreditations of Parts Advisor and Senior Parts Advisor.

A study carried out by the IMI found that ATA enabled major motor factor Allparts to significantly reduce the number of returned parts, providing considerable savings to the business and a return on investment of 136 per cent. In real terms, ATA accreditation has demonstrated that the Parts Advisors at Allparts were accurately fulfilling the vast majority of their sales orders first time.

Steve Nash, the IMI’s Chief Executive, commented: “Historically, parts customer service and sales training has been underrepresented in this important sub-sector, as these skills are often seen as only being relevant to showroom or frontline service staff in the motor industry.

“However, as Allparts have proved, this could be a significant growth opportunity for motor factors and parts departments.  Our commitment to the updating of ATA Parts Adviser accreditation reflects how important this area of development is to the overall success of the automotive retail sector.”

To find out more about ATA Parts visit where you can also find details of your nearest training provider undertaking the assessments.  From this April, ATA parts accredited individuals will also be added to the IMI’s Professional Register.

The Professional Register represents and promotes individuals who have proved they have the right skills, knowledge and competence to practise professionally within the automotive retail industry.

The IMI is also launching the public facing element of their Professional Register this April.  The Professional Register represents individuals who have proved they have the right skills, knowledge and competence to practise professionally within the automotive retail sector and will be available for public viewing at

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Motor Codes GOTY regional winners revealed

Motor Codes GOTY regional winners revealed

GOTYMotor Codes has announced the regional winners for its Garage of the Year Competition.

Among the finalists are CAT Large Garage of the Year winners ABP Motorsport and CAT Award nominee iAutoUK.

Almost 12,000 garage customers across the UK have voted in the competition so far, which aims to give members of the public a roadmap of the best garages in the country. Both independent garages and franchises are included in the competition.

In no particular order, the regional winners for independent garages are:

East of England               Top Marques Repair Garage, Hitchin

Midlands                            iAutoUK, Coventry

North East                          Cavendish Motor Company, Ashington

North West                         ABP Motorsport, Crewe

Northern Ireland              Newtownabbey Autocentre

Scotland                              D&G Autocare, Pitreavie, Dunfermline

South East                           The Test Centre, Deptford

South West                          Tickenham Garage, Clevedon

Wales                                    A1 Motorcare, Rumney, Cardiff

Yorkshire                             Alexanders Prestige, Boroughbridge

Motor Codes Managing Director Chris Mason said: “This is about putting trustworthy garages in the shop window, giving their customers a way to show their appreciation and, importantly, ensuring that people don’t have to feel anxious about choosing a garage.  Even better for motorists, our results are a stark contrast to the findings released this month by Citizens Advice, which has clocked up a similar number of complaints about garages over the past year.”

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SMMT report identifies UK trends roadmap

SMMT report identifies UK trends roadmap

A growing MPV market share, the rise of smaller engined vehicles and an increase in the diesel market are just some of the trends unearthed in a new report from the SMMT.

The society’s Motorparc report, which tracks buying changes across each of the 35, 790, 901 cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches on UK roads has shed light on several important trends among UK car buyers.

The SMMT says the report has revealed a range of trends, which have “redrawn the map on terms of the nation’s motoring preferences.”

Among key locations identified in the report sits Worcester, which has emerged as the UK’s most patriotic town when it comes to buying cars. A quarter of the vehicles on its streets have been built in the UK.

Slough has also taken a gong as the most fuel-efficient town, with the average car there topping 50mpg thanks to 60 percent of vehicles in the town being diesel powered.

The City of London, not surprisingly, boasted the highest proportion of alternatively fuelled vehicles. However the capital also has the UK’s biggest average engine size at 2.5 litres.

Independents on the Isles of Scilly also have cause for celebration, as the average vehicle age there is higher than anywhere else in the UK at 11 years.

The full report can be downloaded from the SMMT, here.

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Delphi’s pedal BEN charity win

Delphi’s pedal BEN charity win

Delphi engineers from the Gillingham Technical Centre have won a gruelling 12-hour cycle challenge at the Rockingham circuit and raised more than £700 for charity.

Pedalling more than 450 miles around the Rockingham Motor Speedway on March 18, the four-man team came first in the marathon cycling challenge for motor industry charity BEN.

“We are glad to have been able to take part in the event and raise money for BEN, a charity which Delphi has supported for a number of years mainly through our annual ‘Excellence Week’ activities,” said team leader and senior development engineer Lloyd James.

“As keen cyclists, the opportunity to take part in the 24 hour event was too good to miss. Bad weather halved the amount of time available, so reaching our target for the event a lot harder than expected, but we managed anyway and are all looking forward to taking part again next year.”

Lloyd and his team; principal applications engineer Matthew Norris, principal engineer Paul Buckley, and design engineer Keith Walker completed a total of 242 laps of the Rockingham international circuit between them, with Keith reaching the highest total of 67. On their way to overall victory at the event the four engineers topped the table after hitting their target, despite adverse weather halving the available time for the event to only 12 hours from its intended 24.

BEN is the only occupational charity for those who work or have worked in the automotive and related industries. Founded in 1905, the charity provides support and advice to more than 15,000 men and women and their families every year on a variety of issues including physical and mental health, disability, benefits, housing matters and financial issues. Delphi’s fit foursome is meeting BEN’s regional manager Tracey Brislen on Thursday 21 March at 11am for a hand over ceremony.

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George Osborne has delivered his budget, and the reaction is starting to roll in.

The Road Haulage Association

The Road Haulage Association has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to cancel fuel duty. But the fact remains that UK hauliers are still paying the highest levels of fuel duty in Europe.

“We urged a “no increase” announcement and the Chancellor delivered – although we would have liked him to go further by cutting diesel duty,” said RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning. “This is another massive achievement for the road haulage industry and the FairFuelUK campaign, which the RHA co-founded three years ago. We have transformed the debate around fuel taxes.

“The RHA also has a strong message for hauliers’ customers. Diesel prices have been rising sharply this year and, according to the RHA’s weekly fuel price survey, a key industry indicator, has already stands at 115.14ppl (ex VAT).

“Customers have to accept that their haulage charges must rise if they are to continue to receive the services upon which they depend,” Geoff Dunning concluded.

The AA

With the ‘cost of living’ top of UK’s major concerns* and volatile UK pump in the past 12 months, a fuel duty hike would have been the straw likely to break UK drivers’ budgets. The Chancellor’s decision to scrap the proposed fuel duty hike in September is therefore very welcome and makes good sense, according to the AA.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “A September a fuel duty hike would have been the last straw likely to break UK drivers’ budgets and would have led to a summer of discontent. The freeze is a pragmatic move and will bring some relief at the pumps. Already 76% of AA members are cutting back on journeys, household expenditure or both, due to the high cost of fuel.

“With current fuel prices at 138.42 for petrol and 145.24 for diesel, drivers will welcome the scrapping of the fuel duty hike with relief rather than with joy. Prices are almost 5p a litre higher than when the Chancellor froze fuel duty in March 2011.”

The latest fuel price swing, through February and March 2013, peaked at 140p a litre. Had January’s scheduled 3p rise in fuel duty gone ahead, attracting an additional 0.6p in VAT, it would have propelled the UK average petrol price well beyond the current record price of 142.48p.


Reacting to news that Fuel Duty is frozen FairFuelUK spokesman Quentin Willson said:  ‘This is welcome news for families and businesses across the UK as far as it goes. It is a sign that the Government is listening, but there will be widespread disappointment that the cancellation of this duty rise gives them no immediate relief from climbing fuel prices. Cancelling a rise that really shouldn’t happen is not enough.  The Government needs to cut duty substantially to get the economic growth we all need.

Petrol Retailers Association

The Petrol Retailers’ Association welcomes the Government’s decision to cancel the fuel duty increase due 1 September.

Taking into account the projection of RPI% in the first quarter of 2014, combined with the current 20% VAT rate, this action will save the motorist up to 3ppl. This could even stem the continuing decline in overall retail fuel volumes, which according to last year’s Government statistics dropped by 2.9% compared to 2011.

However with the Treasury benefiting from the tax windfall of higher VAT over the last two years on ever rising fuel prices, independent retailers had wanted this windfall to be used to cut fuel duty in this Budget. This was a view shared by many motoring organisations and trade bodies.

It is clear that high fuel prices are a significant factor in the upward trend for inflation. They continue to take money out of consumers’ pockets thus weakening their spending power and stifle economic growth particularly for SME’s. The Chancellor has missed a golden opportunity to start correcting the penal 60% tax on retail road fuels.


The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to cancel the fuel duty rise planned for 1 September, but has expressed disappointment that the pleas of industry and consumers to reduce fuel duty have been ignored.

In its pre-Budget submission to the Chancellor, FTA said that in order to ease cost pressure on domestic freight activity and stimulate economic growth through consumer demand, road fuel duty should be reduced by 3 pence per litre, with commensurate reductions in the duty rate for gas oil.

James Hookham, FTA’s Managing Director of Policy and Communications said: “While we are relieved that the immediate danger has passed, in order to get the UK back on the road to economic recovery it is vital that we have a cut in fuel duty and a long-term strategy to prevent future rises and uncertainty.

“The Chancellor has once again squandered an opportunity to support UK industry, jobs and economic recovery, by failing to reduce fuel duty rates.”

FTA has been at the heart of the FairFuelUK campaign to have all fuel duty increases scrapped and lobbying will continue for a reduction in the current level.

FTA acknowledged that duty rates for natural gas and biomethane relative to diesel rates have been fixed for a further year.  However, the payback period for gas-powered trucks is at least 10 years and the fragility of the business case for these vehicles is such that uncertainty over even small increases in gas duty rates renders these investments uneconomic.

Hookham continued: “The Chancellor has bought some time for discussions with the industry.  However, there must be a long term fix in gas fuel duty rates to provide the certainty needed to stimulate investment in low-carbon fuelled vehicles to the benefit of businesses and the environment.”

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George Osborne has delivered his fourth budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer, promising to support what he calls “our aspiration nation.”

“We’re slowly but surely fixing the country’s economic problems,” said Osborne “It is taking longer than anyone hoped, but we must stay on the right track.”

Growth has been forecast at 0.6 percent for 2013, with gradual rises each year to reach a peak of 2.8 percent in 2017.

The Office of Budget Responsibility confirmed that the UK will avoid a second quarter of negative growth, despite government forecasts of borrowing £114 billion in the 2012/2013 financial year.

Among changes relevant to the motor industry was a scrapping of the planned fuel duty rise, due in September. The Chancellor also pledged to support green car production, saying the government must “support the manufacture of ultra low emission vehicles,” with tax incentives.

The Chancellor also lent his support to Lord Heseltine’s recommendation of a single competitive fund for local enterprises to access, as well as Doug Richard’s report into making the most of apprenticeships.

He also outlined a new employment allowance for small businesses, giving them £2000 from national insurance contributions to hire new staff. The Chancellor said he wanted to remove the “burden” of taking on new staff for companies, and that his plan would mean “around 450 thousand small businesses will pay no jobs tax at all.”

The Chancellor also reiterated the importance of keeping UK finances secure, commenting that any trouble within the Eurozone would “hit Britain hard” and that “we are still very exposed to what happens on the continent.”

Concluding his report, the Chancellor said this budget was right for people who like to play by the rules and save for their futures. “Britain is open for business,” he said

Various groups have offered their opinions on today’s announcements  – you can read their thoughts here.

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Maxxis reveals details of dealer rewards programme

Maxxis reveals details of dealer rewards programme

An all expenses paid trip to Thailand is on offer

An all expenses paid trip to Thailand is on offer

Maxxis has revealed details of its annual awards programme for its dealers. Run in conjunction with distribution partner Stapleton’s, the awards will recognize dealers with the chance to win a trip to Thailand as well as other rewards.

All dealers registered with Maxxis in the UK are eligible for the competition. Maxxis says its dealer rewards programme is one of the best supported in the industry, and is designed to demonstrate the company’s appreciation for its dealer network.

UK Managing Director Derek McMartin said: “With the support of our dealers, Maxxis is fast establishing itself as a major player in the UK market. We are continuing to express our gratitude through the Dealer Reward Programme, and by extending it for the full year dealers have more of a chance to reap the benefits. We are continuing to build on this achievement by supporting our dealers, as well as strengthen our relationship with our distribution partner, Stapleton’s.

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New optimised website for J&S Products

New optimised website for J&S Products

The site has been optimised for mobile devices

The site has been optimised for mobile devices

J&S Products says it has updated its website to make logging on a “completely new experience” for customers.

As well as being optimised for mobile and tablet visitors, the new site also includes online videos demonstrating tool use and application. Rolling news on forthcoming product releases and access to an extensive online catalogue also keeps visitors entertained.

Among the J&S product range is a growing selection of heavy-duty power tools and low voltage lighting systems. The company says these are ideal for bodyshops, tyre bays and MOT stations.

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A true picture of the debt created at Klarius Group Limited has been revealed with total liabilities standing at nearly £50 million, according to the administrator’s report from KMPG which CAT has obtained.

The sale of QH intellectual property rights and brands names netted £1.7 million, but short-term working capital lender Cable Finance is owed £8,514,695 and total unsecured creditor claims total £49,276,048. The actual company entity in administration is QHA Realisations Limited (formerly Quinton Hazell Automotive Limited) as the name was changed when the QH brand was sold to Tetrosyl.

There are 17 pages of trade creditors in the report who are owed a total of £12,083,876. The Caterpillar Logistics contract includes a £10 million exit fee, and there is £16,874,149 owed to Klarius inter-group creditors.

Estimated total assets are put at £7,800,357, so while preferential creditors are likely to receive a dividend, to cover staff pay for example, the KMPG report estimates a deficiency of £41,639,178.

“Based on current information, there may not be sufficient funds available to enable a distribution to the unsecured creditors other than via a potential prescribed part distribution, the quantum and timing of which is currently not known,” the report says.

Thirty suppliers have visited the Hinckley warehouse to identify stock under 64 Retention of Title claims.

The KPMG report also details the movement of stock worth approximately €2 million from the UK to France in December 2012 and reads: “QH France is subject to French insolvency proceedings and the Joint Administrators are in discussion with the French Judicial Administrator regarding either the repatriation of this stock or the payment of compensation.”


Restructuring began in 2011 to reduce overheads while at the end of the year Burdale, owned by Wells Fargo, reduced the size of its finance facility to Klarius Group.

Klarius Group started to look for alternative lenders and investors in April 2012. Four offers in principle were received from lenders, but none were completed and an offer for the shares in the company was withdrawn in August, 2012.

Cable Finance provided short-term working capital in October 2012, while at the same time marketing of the business for sale also began with Houlihan Lokey.

In all, 80 financial institutions, investors and buyers were contacted between April and October 2012 in a bid to avoid insolvency but, as the KPMG report says: “It was not possible to reach an agreement for additional financial support from its current lenders, major creditors, shareholder or prospective buyers.”

KMPG Restructuring was engaged in December to market the business and assets. There were 19 interested parties, but only one offer was received for the Klarius emissions business –now in the hands of Klarius Products Limited – none for the QH business or the water pump factory in Colwyn Bay. A deal for Klarius France also fell through.

Five expressions of interest were made in the QH intellectual property rights and brands which were sold to Tetrosyl for £1.7 million.

Tony Wilson gave a candid interview to CAT only recently, in which he apologised for the mistakes which had been made.

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