Archive | February, 2015



CAT-Awards-1The winners of the CAT Awards 2015 were announced at a presentation lunch held at Twickenham Stadium on Friday, 20 February.

The CAT Awards, sponsored by Automechanika, have become the automotive aftermarket’s most coveted trophies. The prizes are awarded in eight categories, covering large and small garages and motor factors as well as Supplier & Retailer of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement award.

Nominations for each award are received during the autumn and the winners are decided by a public vote on the CAT website.

The award nominees and invited guests from the automotive aftermarket came together at the lunchtime event. The awards were announced by compere Henry Hope-Frost following a welcome speech by CAT Editor Greg Whitaker, and a brief outline of the work of motor industry charity BEN by Chief Operating Officer Nigel Rothband. Over £1500 for the charity was raised from guests at the event.

CAT publisher David Harris said: ‘The quality of all of the nominations this year was exceptionally high and each of the businesses set a good example to the rest of the trade. We were delighted to welcome all of our guests to the CAT Awards, an event which we hope is firmly established on the industry calendar.’

Following the conclusion of the awards lunch, guests had the opportunity to access the Twickenham pitch, the players tunnel and the Royal Box as the networking continued in the Members’ Lounge, view a gallery from the Awards here.

The winners of the CAT Awards 2015 were as follows:

Supplier of the Year: Valeo
Sponsored by Haynes, Retailer of the Year: Thompsons Ltd. 
Large Factor of the Year: GMF Motor Factors
Sponsored by Motaquip, Small Factor of the Year: Spartan Motor Factors
Large Garage of the Year: Weldbank Garage, Chorley
Small Garage of the Year: Bayside Motors, Cardiff
Sponsored by JRP Distribution, Extra Mile Award: Phil Dowd, Randstad
Sponsored by Trico, Lifetime Achievement Award: Brian Childs, NGK


Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

Addressing the top five employment law issues

Contract-writingWith the ever-changing legal landscape it’s not surprising that employers face the same common employment issues. Mark Stevens has the top five.

I have received an ET1 claim form

An ET1 form is the document an employee will use to take you to an Employment Tribunal. It is important you understand your obligations quickly and respond to the ET1 form swiftly. This is because you have 28 days from when the Employment Tribunal wrote to you in order to formally respond to the claim.

You should also take care that your response to the claim is complete and accurate. After the response is submitted the Tribunal is unlikely to allow any changes to be made.

As an employer you should take care to avoid treating an employee differently once they commence a claim; this could be perceived as victimisation that could result in the employee arguing that they have suffered a detriment for pursuing their legal rights. This could give the employee a claim for compensation for injury to feelings.

The penalty for failing to respond to an Employment Tribunal claim properly could be that the employee is awarded “default judgment” in their favour.

An employee is arguing about their holiday entitlement

Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave per year (28 days per year) for those who work five days a week, a part time worker’s allowance is reduced pro rata. Public holidays can count towards the worker’s entitlement to annual leave.

Interestingly, there is no statutory right to bank or public holidays. However, if the contract says that staff are entitled to “28 days holiday plus bank or public holidays” then employees are contractually entitled to take bank or public holidays off.

Where an employee wants to take holiday at an inconvenient time, an employer can serve a counter-notice on an employee saying that their holiday request cannot be accommodated. A counter notice must be given at least as many calendar days before the proposed leave is due to commence as the number of days which the employer is refusing. Any unused statutory holiday expires at the end of the holiday year.

One of my employees has raised a complaint

It is likely that a complaint raised by an employee will amount to a grievance. You are best advised to seek to resolve concerns and problems informally; this could avoid the employee raising an allegation more formally, or from pursuing an employment tribunal complaint regarding their concern.

If the issue cannot be resolved informally, an employee should raise it in writing. A failure to raise the grievance in writing does not prevent an employee bringing a tribunal claim about their complaint. The employee could, however, be awarded less compensation if they do not raise a written grievance and give you a chance to respond.

Upon receipt of a written grievance you should investigate the employee’s complaint in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

Employees can raise grievances about many types of issues or concerns, including discrimination and whistle blowing complaints. If you unreasonably fail to follow the ACAS Code, a tribunal may increase any compensation awarded to the employee by up to 25 percent of the total amount awarded.

My employee is on sick leave

For the purposes of administering statutory sick pay, you cannot insist on an employee providing a doctor’s certificate for the first seven days of sickness. A self-certification form is usually required during the initial seven-day period of absence. Doctor’s certificates, which have been rebranded as the Statement of Fitness for Work, will be required for longer absences.

You should maintain appropriate contact with employees on sick leave, without appearing to harass the employee to return to work.
You can, however, investigate the reasons for an employee’s absence but with sensitivity and care. The best way to initiate these investigations would be by way of holding a return to work interview when an employee is fit to return to work, or is likely to be fit in the short term.

Do bear in mind that in some cases, sick leave may arise as a result of an employee’s disability. Disability discrimination could arise in circumstances where an employee is treated less favourably because of their disability, or something arising from their disability. Be aware of your duty to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled person where those adjustments would help them overcome a disadvantage.

Note that there is no upper limit to the amount of compensation that an employment tribunal can award to compensate an employee for the injury to feelings that they have suffered as a result of the discrimination.

Dealing with misconduct issues

Since April 2012, new employees need two years service with an employer before they obtain protection against unfair dismissal. Once an employee has protection you will need to take care when taking action over an employee’s conduct.

To avoid an unfair dismissal finding, you will need to initially identify whether the concern relates to the employee’s conduct or their performance.
When dealing with conduct, you should be aware of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Regardless of the seriousness of the allegation, or the impact upon the business, the code requires you to fully investigate the issues; inform the employee of the issues in writing; hold a disciplinary meeting or hearing before making a decision; inform the employee of the decision in writing; and provide the employee with a right of appeal.

An employee who successfully argues unfair dismissal may be awarded compensation for the loss of earnings they have suffered – up to a limit of 52 weeks’ pay or £76,574, whichever is the lowest. Remember that if you unreasonably fail to follow the ACAS Code, the Tribunal may increase the compensation by up to 25 percent.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

CAT Factor Lives: Essex Motor Factors

Essex-Motor-Factors-1The manager of the Witham branch of Essex Motor Factors’ Martyn Escritt believes in keeping a wide range of brands in a well-organised unit.

“Being OCD is never a dirty word,” quips Martyn Escritt. He has a point as his office at the Witham branch of Essex Motor Factors is immaculate. The phone rings and while he takes a call I notice that even the receiver is gleaming and that my tea mug has a dainty coaster waiting for it. We’ve seen plenty of motor trade premises in our time and while most are presentable enough, few of them actually sparkle. However, Escrit is a man who clearly believes that everything has a place and that there is a place for everything.

This permeates through to the main store. Row after row of neatly arranged parts and accessories wait for their turn to be picked. EMF is a part of the UAN network and that affords it the ability to stock a wide range of brands.

Keeping a wide stock is critical to running a factor in the modern age, according to Escritt. “You can’t take your eye off the ball,” he explained. “You need to continuously look at what you have got and at what price. These days you can’t keep one brand of wheel cylinders and one brand of wheel bearings – you need to offer a choice of quality and price points”. He uses a number of techniques to predict what parts are going to be ‘the next big thing’ in the aftermarket. “I often talk to franchised dealers about up-and-coming problems. This way, if we know about parts that are being used by them now, it is only a matter of time before we get the call too.”

Essex-Motor-Factors-3This hasn’t always been the case. When Escritt joined the company in 1991, the firm was a member of Motaquip, and at the time was limited in terms of the number of brands it could stock. This was less of an issue back then, and in fact made things simpler as holding fewer brands meant a greater number of references could be carried at one branch. Today, as there are far more brands and vastly more references, the emphasis is on efficiency. “Having one branch concentrating on bulk and supplying five times a day on our interbranch van allows for less stock being held at other sites,” he said, explaining that the cost saving allowed for more depth of range on other products. “One site specialising on a less popular product allows for all branches to have daily access to that too without the need to dual stock. Matt (Little, the Operations Manager) and I work very closely to ensure that nothing gets overlooked and where necessary one of us will have it somewhere.”

Interestingly, Escritt has found that the number of OE parts are no more expensive, or cheaper than the aftermarket equivalent. This has turned out to be particularly so in the field of engine management. “The temptation is to say: ‘we can’t have Delphi or Pierburg because OE brands are going to be very expensive’ but when you actually look at it, you realise that the manufacturer has got the price right,” he explained. “These days we can stock a lot of the OE brands, and it will still be the cheapest, but eight or ten years ago it never was.”

Escritt has also found that local buying patterns have changed. In the 1990s, it would be common for even the smallest local garage to order 20 spark plugs at a time, as there were fewer references and they tended to get changed at every service. Now, this has changed, which according to Escritt is because there is a perception in some garages that all cars have platinum plugs and therefore they don’t need changing… and this holds true, even if the vehicle has regular plugs. “So garages will price a service up and say they’ll do it for £100 or whatever, but when they call up for a service kit, and you ask how many miles it has done and you’ll suggest that it will need new plugs which may be £8 or £10 each, they’ll say ‘ouch’ and not change them. It’s only when you point out that the plugs are not platinum that they will give their customers the option of changing them,” says Escritt.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, News, Out and About with CATComments (0)

TecRMI’s new bulletin to bring garages vehicle recall info

TecRMI’s new bulletin to bring garages vehicle recall info

Toyota-Acc-Pedal-recallTecRMI has launched its technical service bulletin service to its myriad of software to help independent garages keep abreast of vehicle manufacturer recall information.

The software supplier has added that while these recalls are often publicised, there is also an opportunity for garages to benefit from more work as these recalls can often be deemed as ‘the tip of the iceberg’.

Shaun Greasley, Commercial Director of TecAlliance UK and ROI, said that it is important that the independent sector has access to this information as it is a potential additional revenue earner, and is sure that not many people are aware that there were 577 recalls throughout 2014, across motorbikes, cars and light commercial vehicles.

“While some, like the spare wheel nut on the BMW Mini produced between December 2013 and October 2014, are minor. Others, such as a potential fuel leak and tank replacement on the brand new i8, are far more serious, but having access to this information is vital and our TecRMI technical information and service data can provide it,” he added.

“By adding the Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) option to the standard TecRMI package, workshops are able to directly access vehicle manufacturers internal bulletins, service notices and recalls, including current changes. With this option, workshops using a customer database can proactively target their customers with a specific recall message, which could contain safety critical information. If, on the other hand, they operate without a customer database, the system can still be interrogated to search for relevant recalls on vehicles that are in the workshop on the day.”

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

Comma launches training programme for distributors

Comma launches training programme for distributors

New-PMO-Voltec-and-PRO-NRG-productsLubricant manufacturer Comma has launched a range of training programmes and tools for distributors and factors.

It has published an eight page Distributor Training overview brochure, which includes online narrated training modules, face-to-face training with Cosan sales people and technical trainers, and regular Tech Talk email bulletins.

The training programme has been designed to support businesses looking to upsell to premium brands and their marketing and communication plans. There are also modules exploring more technical aspects of vehicle lubricants, such as the various grades of engine oil, coolant, brake fluid and transmission oil.

Mike Bewsey, Sales and Marketing Director at Comma, said: “We’ve pinpointed a real demand for distributor training support in today’s aftermarket. In the last decade or so, vehicle manufacturers’ technical requirements have transformed, so it is no longer enough for customer-facing personnel simply to know the technical product basics.

“Comma brand training is designed to give them a high level of understanding and competence in all aspects of their business. These training presentations will equip individual users with the knowledge and confidence to help them reach their full selling and customer service potential.”

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, NewsComments (1)



Following yesterday’s announcement from Environmental Catalyst Technology (ECT) in which it urged stockists not to sell certain lines of catalytic converters, Klarius Products have issued the following statement:

All Klarius distributors, resellers, garages and end customers can be totally confident that every Klarius product is made to exacting quality standards and meets regulatory requirements. There is no issue with any item previously sold or currently held in-stock. The entire Klarius range of CATs available today is certified, type approved and fully legal to sell and use. The Klarius range represents a cost competitive product at a premium quality standard; it always has and will continue to do so in future.”

The firm furthered that any non-compliant stock still in factor branches would have been produced by Klarius before the point in time when the company was officially informed about the withdrawal and would be legal to sell on.

The statement is the latest part in the ongoing row over homologation of catalytic converters.

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Type Approval row deepens

Type Approval row deepens

A company has instructed a law firm in order to have a number of non-Type Approved emissions products withdrawn from the market.

The instruction comes from Environmental Catalyst Technology, (ECT) and follows on from the situation in January, which led to Klarius Products removing a number of catalytic converters from range, only to re-introduce them a short time later.

The catalysts in question bore type approval numbers that showed that ECT had manufactured the monoliths. In fact, the company had stopped supplying Klarius in 2012 and withdrew the ‘extensions’ – namely the rights to use the homologation codes on products manufactured by a third party – shortly afterwards.

In a statement, Peter Nitoglia from ECT said the company has retained the services of law firm Browne Jacobson LLP, adding: “In an effort to limit damages that may result from the continued distribution of these products, ECT has officially notified Klarius and all relevant government regulatory agencies of its cease and desist demands”

“Please could Klarius customers assist ECT and the market by ceasing to sell any of this product” Nitoglia added.

Klarius puts the certification woes down to ‘legacy issues’ and an ‘administrative glitch’. It says that the VCA were immediately notified, who gave the all-clear to continue selling the product, and that it continues to campaign ‘to raise quality standards in the aftermarket and protect the future of the entire industry in the years to come’

“All Klarius distributors, resellers, garages and end customers can be totally confident that every Klarius product is made to exacting quality standards and meets regulatory requirements, and that they have no issue with any item previously sold or currently held in-stock” said Paul Hannah, Business Development Director at Klarius.

Posted in Factor & Supplier NewsComments (0)

Skill Auto competition set to be more challenging for 2015

Skill Auto competition set to be more challenging for 2015

SkillAuto-Competition-LaunchThe Institute of the Motor Industry has announced a closer tie up with WorldSkills UK to make the Skill Auto competition more challenging and rewarding for participants for 2015.

This year for the first time will see the competition become part of the selection process for WorldSkill squad, which will allow finalists to compete for a chance to represent the UK team out in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

The IMI Competition Manager Davie Massie, said: “It’s very exciting that our competition is now an integral part of WorldSkills squad selections for the first time. For this reason we have had to realign some of what we do and raise the standard significantly; something we were working towards anyway but certainly doesn’t come without its challenges.

“Ultimately it means the apprentices who take part in the competition will have more to fight for than ever in the highest profile Skill Auto to date.”

The search for the UK’s best young automotive apprentices is set to commence on the February 9, with young technicians able to compete in three categories; Autobody, Autorefinishing and Autotech for a place in the final, which takes place at the Skills Show in November.

Apprentices looking to take part in Skill Auto 2015 have until 20 March to complete their online application and assessment, before being selected for live heats, at

Posted in Garage News, NewsComments (0)

Inside Line: TecRMI

Toyota Prius 1.8-litre – Fuse box issue

Reference number(s): BE-0021T-0212
Fault symptoms: -READY- indicator light does not light.
Error code(s): P3004 / P0AA1
Causes: Faulty electrical function
Remedy: Replace fuse box.

Toyota Prius 1.8-litre – Noises from the engine bay

Reference number(s): EG-0056T-0711
Fault symptoms: Rattling noises from the region of the engine compartment
Environmental condition(s): In cold weather
Causes: Ignition system
Remedy: Perform software update on engine control unit.

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Inside Line: RMI

Complete electrical failure, caused by corrosion on the high voltage battery pack 28 module cell terminals. Most noticeable if dampness is found in and around the boot load area, possible failure of the tailgate seals. The corrosion can’t be seen unless the battery pack is dissembled.

Later vehicles can suffer from ABS failure – main ABS pump cost £3000.

We receive calls from members requesting information about the safety precautions that need to be taken when carrying out service, repairs in general or body repairs on hybrid vehicles.

Members of the RMI have free access to Hybrid  Awareness Training delivered on site by our own Technical Trainers, please call 0845 305 4230 to enquire about becoming a member of the RMI.

Posted in UncategorisedComments (0)

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