Archive | January, 2014

CAT Factor Lives: Shepshed Auto Spares

SAS_Warehouse-2Rob Hooper and Spencer Parkin explain to CAT how innovative use of IT can make you stand out from the crowd.

Shepshed Auto Spares, also known as SAS, operate in a similar way to its elite combat troop abbreviation namesake where precision and efficiency is key.

The three directors who started SAS, all worked together at the Birmingham-based wholesaler Motor City, and in 1999 decided to try their hand at Motor Factoring.

Rob Hooper, one of SAS’s directors, said: “We saw an opportunity to use our knowledge gained working within wholesaling to open a Motor Factor using a more modern, IT-based approach to operating systems.”

Fourteen years on, and I have to agree that their approach to the business has worked out well, however, with the influx of American money, the squeeze on profit margins adds different challenges to preserving the longevity of the business.

Hooper said: “As an independent we face different challenges every day, but we continue to concentrate our efforts on the same simple values that we put in place when we started the business. We endeavour to ensure that we offer quality parts, delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible.”


Rob Hooper and Spencer Parkin

“We put time and effort into our business, and we care about our customers and their needs. We are constantly looking at new avenues to set ourselves apart from the competition and offer our customers a one-stop-shop in order to become their first phone call.”

SAS has continuously tried to find ways to expand the business, and now offers a second range on all key lines as well as launching into new areas such as motorcycle parts, paint mixing and tyres.

Hooper said: “We have faced challenges from the day we opened, but isn’t that what it is all about? If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

One concept that SAS recently introduced is tyre sales and fellow director Spencer Parkin explains the reason behind this move.

“Tyres are a product that most factors shy away from,” he said. “When we entered the market we knew that we would have to offer a service above and beyond that which our competitors offered, so we decided to offer a loose fit service to smaller garages that have no facilities to fit tyres themselves.”

“We collect the wheels, bring them back to our onsite fitting bay, fit new tyres, re-valve and balance the wheel and return them to the customer. When we launched tyres two years ago, it added 10 percent to our turnover overnight.”

Hooper said: “We added an additional income stream to those garages without tyre fitting equipment as well as an improved service to customers who purely wanted to buy tyres. As there is no additional transport cost involved, it made perfect sense to us.”

SAS prides itself on the quality of service it provides to its customers and to ensure this remains key in the operation, it has invested heavily into IT systems and integration development.

Hooper said: “All our vehicles are tracked, and we have invested time and money in developing the MAM driver’s board system. Now, when customers ask when their delivery will arrive, we can inform them confidently and accurately, we don’t use the phrase “It’s just around the corner, mate”. We want to give customers solid accurate information as they need to plan their day.”

Parkin explains that SAS embraces technology as much as it can and that developments in new hardware, software and structure help give it an advantage over the competition. However a lot of hard work was needed to get the business where it is now.

SAS_Drivers-Board“A large amount of time was involved with the implementation of the MAM driver’s board system to ensure that we would improve our delivery times to customers,” said Parkin. “The driver’s board improved productivity by 15 percent and enabled us to expand our delivery service without the need to employ more drivers.”

“We pride ourselves on all of our automated systems internally, and we would like to go to the next stage, where deliveries are signed for digitally, sending a message to customers that their parts have been dispatched and what the estimated time of delivery will be. We would like to move to that level.”

It is a bold move, but SAS know if they want to thrive, they need to keep evolving.

Posted in Out and About with CATComments (0)

Remy launches 44 new rotating electric parts to UK aftermarket

Remy launches 44 new rotating electric parts to UK aftermarket

Remy-RotatingRemy has added 44 new rotating electric products to its range, which has seen it launch 250 new references in the last six months.

The new additions will see 14 starter motors and 28 alternators increase Remy’s range to more than 4000 parts covering over 35,000 vehicle applications.

Michael Flensborg, Sales and Marketing Director at Remy, added: “This extension is an essential part of our ongoing range development to create strong sales opportunities for the UK aftermarket by ensuring that the Remy range offers the best car parc coverage in the UK.”

The new references will cover a number of popular vehicles in the UK car parc, including starters for the Vauxhall Astra and Corsa, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS, E-, M- and S-Class vehicles

There is also a selection of new alternators for the Renault Laguna, Citroën Nemo, Mitsubishi Pajero IV and the Hyundai i20. Each available to be purchased immediately and will come with a two year warranty.

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Garages can boost their margin by selling cabin filter upgrade

Garages can boost their margin by selling cabin filter upgrade

PMA1Garages in Sussex and Surrey are benefiting from better margins by simply trading up the cabin air filters on vehicles they service says Corteco.

It adds that technicians simply offering its micronAir filters could give their margins a timely boost.

Steve Jarnett, Sales and Marketing Manager at Corteco, believes there is still a large discrepancy between the number of activated carbon filters that are fitted at OE and then replaced by the aftermarket.

“Dealerships install them every time, because that’s what goes in when the car is built. Research shows that if cabin filters go unchanged, the air inside the car can be worse than it is outside. It’s an opportunity that many other independent garage proprietors are missing out on, that’s for sure.”

PMA motor factor who supplies to garages in the Sussex and Surrey area has noticed the sales of activated carbon filters are on the increase, as garages give their customers a choice of filter.

It adds that motorists are keen to upgrade their cabin filter when it is their best health and comfort interest to do so.

PMA Operations Manager Pete Keenan, says: “Despite the difference in cost, garages can stay competitive on the menu service price. The upgrade remains an option – but it is on that drivers will accept when made aware of the health benefits.”

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graham_knight_300pxThe Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation has issued a rallying call for businesses to get behind the organisation ahead of an active 2014.

The call came from President Graham Knight following the organisation’s annual general meeting where he said that the IAAF is ready and able to take on any challenges and embrace opportunities that face the aftermarket this year.

Despite the ambition of the IAAF, it needs more support from companies to promote and strengthen the work it does.

“Shouldn’t any mature, healthy business that takes profit from our industry be proud to be playing their part in supporting the IAAF?” said Knight.

He added that the ‘real heroes’ are firms that paid the membership not to utilise the membership benefits but to enable the IAAF to continue securing the independent aftermarket’s future.

With Wendy Williamson announced as the new Chief Executive, the IAAF is ready to build on the number of successes it had in 2013.

Including its response to BMW pushing the blame onto the independent aftermarket for timing belt failures on the N47 engine, and Honda’s radio campaign suggesting that only its dealerships can service Honda vehicles.

Along with ongoing battles to ensure the aftermarket can benefit from Digital Radio or not to be affected by the new EU Roadworthiness proposals.

Knight said: “The IAAF is run by a dedicated employed team and many willing volunteers from our industry. The IAAF is run by us, for us, looking after our interests, doing what as individuals we couldn’t do ourselves.”

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Manbat plays pivotal role in Ecobat closed recycling process

Manbat plays pivotal role in Ecobat closed recycling process

Screen-shot-2014-01-30-at-12.43.01The Ecobat group in the UK has created a closed recycling process for scrap automotive batteries.

Manbat, G&P Batteries and HJ Enthoven, all members of Ecobat, have joined together to maximise the materials recycled and reused from batteries.

The process sees Manbat not only supply the new units but collect the scrap units from its customers, and sends the old units to sister company G&P to sort before transporting it on to HJ Enthoven for the recycling process.

The old lead from the batteries are then melted down into either pure lead or lead alloys, and the lead ingots created from the process will be sold to battery manufacturers to use in the production of new products, before the process restarts when Manbat distributes new products to its customers.

The Ecobat recycling process will see approximately 99.97 percent of the lead recycled, and it convert other substances that would be considered waste into products that are ready to reuse or sell on, including sulphuric acid, polypropylene, zinc, aluminum and industrial minerals.

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TRW campaigns for shocks absorbers to be  tested in the MOT

TRW campaigns for shocks absorbers to be tested in the MOT

TRW-_MG_7304-0006TRW has called for shock absorbers to be classed as a safety critical item and should be scrutinised in the MOT.

It believes attention should be paid to shocks in the same way as other safety parts and have its own specific test, as it estimates more than 25 percent of vehicles in Europe are putting their owners at risk by having at least one defective shock absorber.

Denis Poncet, Senior Product Manager of Steering, Suspension and Shock Absorbers Parts and Service Europe at TRW, said: “As safety critical parts, we are calling for compulsory component inclusion in annual vehicle service and periodic technical inspection tests in all EU countries.

“The foundations of our business are built on safety and defective parts put lives at risk on our roads. We will work tirelessly to communicate this message at every level until we achieve our goal.”

This TRW Corner module campaign has come at the same time as it launches its latest programme to introduce a series of remanufactured parts for the aftermarket.

TRW is keen to emphasis the affects of a defective shock absorber that it has also released the results to tests carried out in association with SECUR, which prompted the French authorities to include a leakage test into its annual test in 2009.It hopes that throughout 2014 more EU countries will follow suit, and one has already devised a test procedure for shock absorbers done in isolation with the rest of the suspension system.

TRW has also announced its first venture into supplying remanufactured parts for electrically powered steering system has been successful, and plans to launch a programme for steering gear systems later this year.

Each remanufactured part is an exchange item reproduced to its original standard, with all the seals and broken or worn components are discarded and replaced, and also includes a two-year warranty.

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The Parts Alliance has announced a restructuring and senior appointments in the HgCapital-owned sections of the business to position the group for further growth.

The developments have been outlined by Peter Sephton who joined the PA as Group CEO of the four HgCapital-owned businesses of Allparts, CES, GMF and SC Motor Factors in August last year.

He has moved the four companies into two regional alliances in a bid to speed up decision-making and allow for the sharing of best practice. Sephton also wants to accelerate growth, develop staff training, open new branches and invest more in customer service with the restructuring.

Allparts and SCMF create an Eastern Alliance, headed by Allparts’ Mark Darvill as Managing Director, while CES and GMF create a Western Alliance led by Steve McCann of CES.

Sephton said: “This is a genuinely exciting time for the two new Alliances, our four brands, our employees and our customers.

“It will also provide outstanding opportunities for the personal growth of our colleagues as we connect our people and give added focus to best practice – a cornerstone of our strategy of local strength and a unified operating model.”

SCMF Managing Director Jeremy Stopher and GMF founder Charles Jonathan will help in the transition to Darvill and McCann before stepping back into consultative roles with the business.

A new appointment has also been made in Dan Williams who joins the group as Commercial Director in February. Currently Category Director with Saint Gobain, Williams will invest in the alignment of category management, pricing and procurement across the four businesses.

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First Line revamps its website for 2014

First Line revamps its website for 2014

unnamedFirst Line has overhauled its corporate website, alongside its latest additions to its range with the introduction of turbo hoses.

Key to this website project was making it’s users journey easier throughout the website with easy navigation, and First optimised design for both tablets and smartphones.

It also enables users to easily navigate through to its three brands individual websites, First Line, Borg and Beck, and Key Parts, which allows its users to benefit from the Webcats parts catalogue that has been incorporated, providing the customer with clear product detail and information.

The cataloging also allows for cross referencing against other suppliers parts numbers and a number of images across a number of vehicle marques for cars and light commercials.

First Line’s new website comes straight after it has extended its range into turbo hoses across a number of popular applications such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Focus, Land Rover Freelander and Discovery and the BMW E39 and 46 models.

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Manbat and French compatriots BAT join forces

Manbat and French compatriots BAT join forces

EURO-BATEcobat Technologies, the parent company of battery distributor Manbat, has announced the acquisition of French trader Batteries Accus Technologies (BAT).

The move highlights Ecobat’s desire to continue its growth and strengthen its position in Europe, as it acquired its fourth European trader for its Global Battery Distribution Division, with Manbat, Hefra in The Netherlands and Belgium’s ACA being the others.

The deal will see BAT operate independently of the other brands and will continue to be managed by current Director Frederic Levert-Frebault, but Manbat will assist it in achieving its developmental strategic plan, which includes introducing the popular UK battery products from Lucas, Varta and Numax into the French market.

Steve Sheppard, Managing Director of Manbat, said: “This latest acquisition demonstrates Ecobat’s commitment to develop the battery distribution division alongside its formidable lead production and recycling capabilities.

“The Manbat marketing and commercial team is looking forward to contributing towards expanding the group’s presence within the French aftermarket, whilst understanding that Frederic and his team will create commercial policies designed to deliver growth.”

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BBA_300pxAftermarket businesses are more likely to get accepted for finance than they think and could provide a significant boost to the economy if they applied, a new report out today suggests.

The British Bankers Association (BBA) survey of 15,000 small to medium-sized enterprises found that just 37 percent thought they would be successful if they applied for finance.

In reality, data shows that 67 percent of applications are successful, so the BBA has launched a new 12-month campaign to highlight the success rates and provides businesses with more advice on the types of finance available at

BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said, “We’ve launched this campaign to let businesses know that they are a lot more likely to get finance than they think.

“This matter because more successful loan applications mean more orders for equipment, more new jobs and more plans to expand.

“Small businesses are the engine room of the economy and the research we publish today shows how much stronger our recovery could be if more SMEs approached their banks for finance.

If the businesses that had decided not to go for finance changed their minds, 3,000 UK companies would expand, 2,700 orders for equipment would be made and 6,5000 enterprises would have their spending power increased.

This sentiment is echoed by Professor Russel Briggs OBE, Independent Reviewer of the Appeals Process, who believes this announcement is positive for SMEs, along with the added focus on how to appeal against rejections or unsatisfactory terms from the bank.

He added, “Initiatives like this show that banks are working hard to make sure businesses know their right of appeal if their application is rejected.

“Entrepreneurs and SMEs should approach their bank knowing that they have the right to appeal any decision the bank takes.”

The BBA’s campaign will target businesses with a turnover of £25 million or less, using online advertising and social media. As well as providing wide-ranging advice on the various types of funding available for business by region, turnover and size of finance required, the

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