Archive | May, 2016



Why Birmingham?

<A> For us it was a no-brainer.. There are a lot of people in the UK who want to attend an aftermarket or supply chain exhibition, but at the moment have to go to Frankfurt. It’s time and money to get over there. What we are offering is the opportunity to get to a show that is only an hour or two (OK, if you live in Cornwall its further, but you can do it in a day) It costs you only your petrol and a limited amount of your time. You could attend the show just for a morning if you were really pushed for time.

I know that Messe Frankfurt did a lot of analysis on this and clearly it is a risk to hold two shows in Europe in the same year, but the analysis showed that this wouldn’t happen. Frankfurt has more exhibitors than ever this year despite the fact that Birmingham is on. Perhaps a few of the smaller companies have made a decision between the two, but next year there is no decision to make as there is no Frankfurt show.

Historically NEC aftermarket shows haven’t worked well. Why will AM B’ham be different?

<A> It’s all about the brand. It has stuck me since we announced this show is that the brand is so well known. This isn’t just the world’s largest automotive trade show – it is the world’s largest trade show brand in any product category. So when people see the Automechanika brand it gives them confidence because we consistently deliver great trade shows around the world. They know that they are coming to something that is a trusted event and will deliver what they are hoping for.

Is it sustainable to run a show of this size in the UK every year?

<A> We know there was demand in the first place to run an annual show. The analysis was done and our partners at SMMT felt there was real demand for an annual show. That said, we will run the show as often as the industry demands it – and over the next few years we will see what the demand is.


Did you ask potential visitors what the wanted, and who they wanted to meet at the show ahead of launch?

<A> Research into what the exhibitors and visitors want is key. Because this is a launch event, we have surveyed all of the exhibitors about whom they want to meet at the event and what they want out of them. In the aftermarket, it was very clear who that was so it enabled us to build our marketing plans and build a seminar programme to attract them to the event. However, it was very clear to us that it was the exhibitors [rather than just seminars or other programmes] that draw visitors in the UK to an event.

Was it difficult to draw the floorplan without upsetting some people?

<A> We treated it as a level playing field. It was a case of first come first served. Obviously some of the bigger stands are at the front of the halls, so that was the only thing that we did plan. The great thing about the way the plan is organised is that it will encourage visitors to walk the whole of the three floors and to really browse. While we expect them to plan who they are going to see to an extent, we really want them to browse and talk to the wide array of exhibitors that we have.

I realise the show is not as big as Frankfurt –

<A> Well, not this year! We’ll organise the exhibitors according to product categories, the country they’re from and supply chain and aftermarket.


 This is a VM supply chain show as well as an aftermarket show. Do you see one putting the other off?

<A> I don’t see any putting off of people whatsoever. I think it’s great to get the whole industry together. Other Automechanika’s have this offering as well and it’s something the industry has been crying out for.

What steps have you taken to ensure the ‘high rollers’ of the aftermarket buying groups attend?

<A> We’ve seen already that some of the usual suspects in the aftermarket have registered, but yes, we want to make sure we want to make sure they turn out in numbers. In fact we’d love all of the individual branches of the major motor factors to come along, because the opportunity for these branches is to meet the parts manufacturers face to face and be able to touch the products. From that perspective we sometimes don’t get to hear from the horse’s mouth and for the distributors and motor factors they can learn about some of the products and services from the manufacturers directly. In turn this will help them sell the products to their customers.

The exhibitors have said to us that they don’t just want to meet the big buyers – they want to sell to people indirectly.

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Neil Pattemore The giant factors are beginning to specialise – are there any business lessons from this?

Neil Pattemore

Business analyst at XEN Consultancy for the aftermarket

You may have noticed in last month’s magazine that there has been a spate of acquisitions in the parts distribution sector recently.

Andrew Page has acquired Solid Auto, whose reputation for sourcing hard to find parts and expertise in Japanese and Korean vehicles is well renowned and provides an obvious expansion to the range and expertise of Andrew Page’s portfolio. Page also added 21 sites from the collapsed Unipart Automotive in July 2014.

Elsewhere, The Parts Alliance has bought SAS Autoparts, who have several branches in the Leeds area as another of the parts groups expands still further.

There are several ‘levels’ in terms of the size and of the international trading profile of the various companies, including the U.S. car parts giant LKQ Corp (owners of ECP) acquiring Italy’s Rhiag Group from private equity firm Apax Partners LLP, through to Equistone Partners Europe SAS (a private investment company) acquiring control of French car parts maker Mecaplast Group, all the way up to the German giant ZF acquiring the international TRW Automotive Holdings Corporation. So why this rash of recent take –overs? What’s the big attraction and what’s in it for the smaller parts distributors?

Perhaps the obvious answer is the economies of scale which occur not only for the enlarged organisation being able to benefit from the synergies of reduced internal costs, but also to their suppliers who can benefit from reduced customer numbers whilst maintaining, or even increasing their supply volumes. All this should lead to the enlarged organisation benefiting from increased profits, increased competitiveness or lower prices to their customers.

It can also create brand differentiations, as is the case with the acquisition of Solid Auto. Being able to expand the range of products available, especially when there is a niche or high level of
knowledge and expertise involved, can create added value to the wider product range on offer. This can in turn help protect a product or service from the competition and encourage loyalty.

As companies grow in size, they can become more difficult to challenge as they acquire even greater abilities to fight their competitors on a variety of issues, such as price or choice of products. However, conversely, big is not always best and smaller, more ‘nimble’ businesses can often provide an excellent local service tailored to the needs of their specific customers.

Equally, with the increased buying and distribution volumes, larger organisations can defend their market share more aggressively against not only existing competitors, but also as a barrier to new entrants to the market. This becomes especially important in the international arena where global competitors serving a global market are using acquisition and consolidation to gain a competitive advantage.

As distributors get larger, they can also start to exert increased pressure on suppliers to achieve better control of distribution channels to achieve some form of ‘exclusivity’ of product or ‘preferred supplier’ status – either way gaining an advantage over their competitors.

However, as companies consolidate and get ever larger, there comes a point where the legislator or regulator becomes interested to ensure that a monopoly situation is not created. In the parts
distribution sector, this may be a difficult issue to address, as there are both high-level supplier agreement elements, as well as the highly fragmented local issue of competition at the point of delivery to a workshop.

This is where the real day-to-day competition exists, as workshops are interested in the key elements of parts distribution – the right part at the right price at the right time. Local distributors certainly understand their local market requirements and can deliver in every sense of the word, but unless they belong to a larger buying group, they may struggle to compete on price. Perhaps this is where the key issue comes to light – not just having the right stock on the shelf, but being able to buy this stock at the right price.

This leads into another developing part of the sector – on-line selling of replacement parts. This appears to be an attractive proposal to some parts suppliers, but has the fundamental risk of alienating their own trade customer base, whilst creating the problem of consumers buying products at lower prices, but still needing a workshop to fit them – creating conflicts of interest and potential liability issues for both the parts supplier and workshop. Not exactly a win- win situation.

That isn’t to say that smaller businesses should not have a consumer-facing an internet presence, but remember that the ‘net these days means far more than just having an erratically updated web page.
Instead, forming an all- encompassing social media outlook is the way to do it – just remember that it takes resource to keep it going.

So at the higher level, it makes sense to look at acquisitions or mergers and the advantages this will bring, but at the level of supporting the local workshop, small may well remain a distinct advantage for some time to come – discuss!

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

Sillars airs views on 4-1-1 ahead of IAM rebrand


Sarah Sillars OBE

Sarah Sillars gives her verdict on the four-year MOT as charity becomes IAM Roadsafe

The boss of road safety charity IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has voiced her opinion on the four-year MOT.

“I answered this question the last time around as the head of [the IMI]” said Sarah Sillars OBE. Now I’m wearing a road safety hat you might think the argument would be even stronger. I have a slightly different view now, which is ‘should it really be the MOT that picks up worn tyres, broken lights or whatever – or should there be more responsibility is on the driver to make some basic checks on the vehicle’ as is the case in many European countries”.

Sillars expanded: “The evidence says that if the service happens before the MOT, it becomes a validation. Because we have a lot of people in this country who use the MOT as the primary safety check it is very hard to argue for a change in the law”. The Chief Exec was speaking on the day that the charity launched a new and ‘less authoritarian’ logo and rebrand as ‘IAM Roadsmart’ and announced a switch away from promoting the advanced driving test as it’s core function, instead focusing on a number of ‘modular products’ such as motorway and night driving courses to help drivers upskill and fleet managers negate risks.

The organisation has a number of high-profile members who talk to the media about its benefits. Nigel Mansell has been promoting the re-brand, while Paddy Hopkirk champions the Older Driver Assessment course, notably at the recent CAT Awards.

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Automechanika Birmingham will be the home to more than 550 high calibre businesses over the course of three days, from the 7th to the 9th June 2016. As an important part of the visitor experience, the organisers have arranged a series of informative seminars that will examine a wide range of important issues facing both the aftermarket and supply chain.

The aftermarket focussed seminars will be presented by prominent figures and organisations from within the industry and will provide insight, explore the challenges and reveal the opportunities effecting the future of the aftermarket.

The seminars will be presented across three theatres, the Keynote Theatre sponsored by Morris Lubricants, the Aftermarket Theatre sponsored by Aftermarket magazine and the Technical Theatre, with Workshops for the Aftermarket organised by autotechnician magazine and sponsored by TecRMI. The programme of events begins at 10:30 and runs to 16:15 on Tuesday, 10:00 to 16:15 on Wednesday and on Thursday from 10:00 to 13:50: for full details of the entire programme, please visit the Automechanika Birmingham website.

  • Among the aftermarket specific presentations is ‘The workshop of the future: how data is shaping servicing and diagnostics’ by Max Lienard, Autodata, on Tuesday 7th at 11:00.
  • Ian Gillgrass is also giving a presentation on Tuesday on ‘The rise of autonomous technology; what it means for the automotive industry’ at 14:20.
  • The final aftermarket focussed seminar of the Tuesday is Adam Bernstein’s ‘The impact of regulations on business’ at 15:40.
  • On Wednesday, Wendy Williamson of the IAAF, will be giving a seminar at 10:30 on the ‘Challenges facing the automotive aftermarket’.
  • The DVSA will be presenting the latest developments in their seminar of ‘Modernisation of MOT training’ at 11:15.
  • ‘Safeguarding your business: dispute resolution and key updates on consumer legislation’ will be given at 13:40 by Mark Hallam of Motor Codes.
  • There will also be a selection of seminars focussing on the effect technology will have in the aftermarket. First on Wednesday, is HELLA’s Neil Hilton presenting ‘Overcoming the challenges of ADAS’ at 11:20. There will then be a seminar on ‘The impact of technology in the retail sector’ given by Professor Jim Saker at 13:00. Finally in this section will be Prashant Chopra, Autogem, at 15:40 on the subject of ‘TPMS, a tidal wave of challenge and opportunity’.
  • The first aftermarket based seminar on the closing day, Thursday 9th, will be given by Steve Scofield, IMI, at 10:00 on ‘The changing world for Vehicle Testing Stations – MOT requirements demystified’.
  • Also at 10:00, Shaun Greasley of TecAlliance will give a seminar on ‘Supporting the independent’.
  • The penultimate seminar concentrating solely on the aftermarket is ‘Vehicle systems integration’ presented by Paul Grosvenor, MAHLE, at 10:40.

Posted in Emma Butcher's Blog, Factor & Supplier News, Greg Whitaker's diary, NewsComments (0)



MANN+HUMMEL has completed the acquisition of the filtration business of Affinia, best known in the UK for the Wix and Filtron brands. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The group will be lead as a new business unit based in North Carolina. Keith Wilson, previously CEO and President of Affinia will retain the titles as President and CEO of Mann+Hummel Filtration Technology and report to Manfred Wolf, the supervisory board chairman of the acquired company.

Affinia Group was created in 2004 through the acquisition of the aftermarket businesses of Dana Corporation by private equity firm The Cypress Group. In 2010 the firm sold QH to Klarius and the U.S brake friction business was sold in 2012 to the management team. The chassis components business was sold to Federal-Mogul in 2014, at which time Affinia elected to move it’s HQ from Michigan to North Carolina where Wix Filtration were already based.

Alfred Weber, President and CEO of Mann+Hummel welcomed the new brands. “[The additions] strengthen our global presence with an expanded product portfolio and access to new markets” he said.

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We’re in West Lothian to learn more about hidden link in the oil supply chain with Andrew Salton


Certas Energy Headquarters

We are in the hilly outskirts of Edinburgh on what is turning out to be a beautiful spring morning. However, we haven’t come here to admire the scenery. Instead, we’ve come to take a look at a depot belonging to Certas Energy that distributes oil-based products to trade customers.

In case you are not familiar with the name, Certas started in 2001 when DCC acquired a company called Scottish Oils from BP. The firm then acquired the Shell Direct business and Emo Oils as well as many brands for the fuel side of the business. The fuel part of the business boasts 140 ‘wet’ depots, while the mainland lubes division operates from six sites around the UK. However, it is the firm’s most recent branch, opened around 18 months ago, that we are here to see today.

Andrew Salton, General Manager for the North explains that the pre-packs and lubes side of the business has enjoyed a period of growth: “In 2007 when I joined, people were doing 300,000 litres of lube, packed fuel and adBlue per year” he said. “Now we’ve topped 8.5m litres of the same product range, so there has been significant growth, not only through a lot of acquisition, but also through organic growth”.

As most readers will be aware, the lubricant market has become far more complex in recent years with the number of oil types and VM approval codes greatly increasing. Salton made the following observation: “I noticed in CAT a few months ago that someone had written in to ask why lubricants haven’t come down in price in line with oil prices. The simple answer to that is that lubricants today are complex synthetic chemicals and not mineral based. If you tried putting a mineral-based oil in a Euro-VI engine you wouldn’t
get more than 4,000 miles before it starts to deteriorate,
it just can’t deal with the temperature regime”.

Tank Farm

The tank farm

Inside, the large depot is what you might expect: bulk quantities of oil are neatly racked in 1,000-litre pallet tanks known as ‘IBC’s while other shelves are full of barrels of grease and pre- packed fuel. On our visit, the team were in the process of upgrading from a basic barcode- scan stock control system to a more elaborate QR code system which when operational will include useful extra points of reference. Other isles contain smaller quantities of pre-packed items, but central to the whole operation is a ‘tank farm’ designed to quickly and cleanly take bulk quantities of product directly from tanker lorries.

It is an installation of which Salton is clearly proud. “The tank farm has been especially made for our purpose” he explained. “Really, it is not a tank farm but a specialised decanting tool. The trucks come down with 30,000 litre loads, we decant it and measure it into 1,00 litre lots using a special measuring system into IBCs and then we go out and deliver 1000 litres at a time. It’s a good system and it works really well. It cuts down lead-time and customers get what they want”. The company deals with many top-name oil companies, including Castrol, Shell, Valvoline, Total and Gulf Oil.

We can’t deny the efficiency of the operation, but we can’t help wondering why trade customers don’t simply buy directly from the oil companies. However, Salton has a simple explanation. “The UK is a mature marketplace. The oil companies understand that they are good at dealing with the VMs, and they make sure that they are developing the right oils for the engines, not just for today but for five or ten years down the line. Where our expertise at Certas comes in, is listening to and dealing with customers. We give [oil companies] an on-the-ground, fast response for the products that the customers need there and then”.

The extra legwork includes understand remote customers, such as those on Scottish islands, stock profiles so the products they need are in stock at the local depot before they have even been ordered. “We’ve won DOFE awards from Shell and Valvoline due to the great effort from all of the branches to make sure the deliveries go on time” said Salton.

Andrew Salton

Andrew Salton


SIZE 33,000 sq, ft.

150,000 Litres


Posted in Out and About with CATComments (0)


Mark Stevens Don’t sit on your hands if a claim comes through: Prompt action may save you in the long run

Mark Stevens

Mark Stevens is a solicitor at Veale Wasbrough Vizards

Since 2013 most employees wishing to pursue an employment tribunal claim against their employer have to pay a fee to do so. So if your business receives an employment tribunal claim – an ET1 form – what steps should you take and what are the key points to bear in mind?

The priority is to make sure the response form is filled in smartly. Employers have 28 days from receipt of the ET1 to respond to the claim by filing form ET3 with the appropriate employment tribunal. The importance of meeting this deadline cannot be overstated. If you miss the deadline, the employment tribunal may enter a default judgment against you. The impact of a default judgment is that you cannot play a part in the claim or defend yourself. Extensions will only be granted by the employment tribunal where there are good grounds for doing so.

Employers should always check that the employee has submitted their case within the allotted time. The general rule is that an employee has three months from the termination of their employment to contact ACAS to initiate pre-claim conciliation regarding a potential unfair dismissal claim. If the worker is alleging discrimination, they have three months from the date of the alleged discriminatory act or the last event in a series of discriminatory acts about which they are complaining to contact ACAS regarding their complaint. For wages claims, a worker will have three months (less one day) from the date that the wages were due to be paid to contact ACAS. If the employee has failed to get their claim in before the relevant deadline then the employment tribunal will have no jurisdiction to hear the claim.

Some legal protections only apply to employees – for instance claims of unfair dismissal and for a statutory redundancy payment. Generally speaking, an employee can only pursue an unfair dismissal complaint against their employer once they have at least two years’ service with that employer, although there are important exceptions to this rule.

Make sure you know whom exactly the employee is trying to sue. It may that you have been incorrectly identified as the employer liable for the claimant’s claim – for instance as a result of a transfer when the business was taken over. If the claimant was engaged outside of England and Wales and has no connection with the UK, it may be that the employment tribunals don’t have jurisdiction.

Usually, the claims will be clearly set out on the ET1 form, but there may be further allegations included within any additional information attached to the ET1. Your defence should respond to each specific complaint that is being made.

Should the case proceed to a hearing, witness evidence will be required from those involved in the events giving rise to the claim. To be ready for this, and to accurately draft the defence, take initial statements from relevant employees. This is particularly useful when the events leading to the claim will be fresh and clearer in everyone’s mind. You should also begin to collate any relevant documents and put together your version of events and chronology. The disclosure process will require all relevant evidence to be sent to the claimant. For this reason, managers and employees involved should be told to preserve documents.

Sometimes an ET1 form – and the claims – will be unclear. If the ET1 is vague, part incomplete or contradictory then an employer could consider serving the employee with a request for Further and Better Particulars of the Claim. This will allow for specific questions to be put to the employee regarding the unclear parts of their claim. However, it can also give the employee a second opportunity to get their claim into shape.


Taking legal advice at an early stage will ensure that you understand fully the claims being made against you, the required steps needed to comply with the employment tribunal’s rules of procedure and to help form a response and strategy to defend the claim. Inaccurately completing the ET3 response form – or failing to address something – is likely to cause problems later in the process, and could have expensive consequences at the employment tribunal hearing.

Settlement is always an option to consider – particularly if it appears that the employee has a good chance of a successful claim. Other factors to take into account when considering settlement will be the possibility of any adverse publicity, damage to reputation and the time and legal fees required to defend any claim. You can also consider contacting ACAS to help broker a deal.

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Ashley Minors Big commercial claims are often complex, so it pays to have the right people in your corner



If you’ve ever experienced a large commercial insurance claim, you’ll understand that the process can be both complex and time consuming.

When a loss occurs and the running of your business has been affected, you’ll want the confidence the claim is going to be dealt with quickly and fairly. This will involve knowing what to do and having the right information to supply to the insurance company.

Many business owners will be aware of the term ‘loss adjustor’ but not completely clear about exactly whom they act for and how a loss adjustor could help them. In the event of a large property and business interruption claim, a loss adjustor will be appointed by your insurance company to liaise with you, establish the cause of loss and whether or not it’s covered, and submit their recommendations to the insurance company in respect of what they believe should be paid.

An important point to consider is that while loss adjustors often stress that they provide an independent service, they are being paid by the insurer to act on the insurer’s behalf and represent their interests.

As part of the claim process, insurers and loss adjustors will look to establish the extent of liability. Whilst insurers will look to act fairly, interpretation of policy cover can be complex, as can agreeing the validity and value of a claim. Loss adjustors working for insurers will often have limited time to assist you, especially during very busy periods, such as seen during the recent flooding. In the event of a large loss therefore, you are best to employ your own loss adjustor to represent your interests.

A loss adjustor employed by you, will prepare, administer, present and negotiate the claim with your insurer on your behalf. Essentially, the loss adjuster will liaise directly with the insurers’ loss adjuster and all parties throughout the claim, to ensure matters progress as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your loss adjustor will work with you to ensure you achieve the best possible settlement under your policy.

You might well ask that if you use a broker, won’t they cover this? Your broker plays a key role in the handling of a claim. However, in the event of a large loss, the process will often be technically complex and very time consuming. Having a dedicated expert working on your behalf, who specialises in the process of handling large claims, will certainly make the claim progress faster and result in reduced stress for all involved.

A loss adjustor can be employed after a claim occurs. However, the costs can be significant, with fees typically ranging from six to eight percent of the total claim settlement. Where there is significant damage to buildings, stock, equipment and a loss of trade, this could mean a payment of tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

There is a more economical way of sourcing the service of a loss adjustor however. Purchasing an insurance policy upfront will pay for a loss adjustor to work on your behalf in the event of a large claim (usually considered £5,000 upwards).

Annual premiums for policies for most businesses in the aftermarket sector typically range from £175 to £500. The premium is based on the underlying cost of the business insurance for the property and business interruption sections of cover.

Whist arranging a policy is viewed by some as yet another insurance cost, the peace of mind and certainty that a loss adjustor will be ready to represent you and your business at the time of crisis, is seen by others as an essential business expense.


A loss adjustor’s work will often involve the following:

  • Attending your premises within 24 hours to establish the extent of the damage
  • Attending meetings with insurers and dealing with correspondence
  • Creating itemised inventories of damaged stock/equipment and sourcing valuations for replacement products (remembering that the responsibility of substantiating the value of the claim is down to the policyholder)
  • Liaising with your accountants to ascertain and itemise loss of
    trading profits to be claimed
  • Arranging of building inspection by surveyors, contractors, engineers and architects
  • Negotiation of interim claim payments from the insurer
  • Sourcing of temporary premises

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juratekAllan Hooks and Matt Robinson have announced that they have purchased the entire shares of brake component supplier Juratek Holdings Ltd. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Allan Hooks will serve as Chairman and Matt Robinson will move from his existing role as General Sales Director to the role of Managing Director with day to day responsibility for the company and for setting and implementing the future strategic direction of Juratek in the UK and Export markets.

Commenting on the completion of the MBO Allan Hooks commented “It is very pleasing to complete the transaction and secure the future of the company. Our aim is growth and we now have the key people in place to achieve this”.


Posted in Factor & Supplier News, News, UncategorisedComments (0)


Scrappage SchemePolicy Exchange, a non-government organisation, has suggested that a new scrappage scheme be introduced for almost all diesel cars.

The think-tank suggests that such a scheme would be the fairest way to get motorists to give up derv-fulled vehicles.

“If we are to clean up air pollution, then Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift to alternatives. This needs to be done in a way that does not unduly penalise existing diesel drivers, who bought their vehicle in good faith, and gives motorists sufficient time to respond” said Richard Howard, Head of Environment and Energy at Policy Exchange.

This report follows a suggestion by the Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that some major cities could introduce extra ‘congestion charge’-style levy’s on anyone entering proscribed zones. The areas mentioned by the committee are Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

The outpourings of an NGO or that of a select committee rarely make it into the popular press, but The Sun has picked up on the document and has launched a reader petition to campaign for a scrappage scheme to ‘compensate drivers seduced into buying diesel cars – and now face fines over their killer fumes’.

The Policy Exchange proposals also include a higher rate of purchase tax on diesel vehicles – and parliament select committees often debate its ideas that in turn can eventually be passed into legislation.

So far the aftermarket’s response to the suggestion has been relatively muted. However Quentin Wilson, speaking on behalf of the Fair Fuel UK pressure group said: “While we definitely need to improve air quality in our cities we worry if local authorities are given powers to create congestion charge zones they’ll approach the process with the same leaden-handed zeal they’ve applied to parking. The last thing we want is to diminish the public’s enthusiasm for cleaner air. Taking old, worn and badly maintained diesel vehicles off our roads should be an urgent priority and we at FairFuelUK will support a fully thought out, workable and cost effective scrappage scheme.”

Posted in Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, UncategorisedComments (3)

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