Archive | January, 2018

BIG IDEAS FROM A FAMILY BUSINESS

BIG IDEAS FROM A FAMILY BUSINESS

Operations Manager Lorraine Fullers takes CAT around family-run and CAT nominated garage: D&D Autos in Ashford.

Workshop space serves all marques

If you’re on the Eurostar, the chances are that you’ve seen the looming D&D Autos building as you pull out of Ashford International. It is physically the largest independent garage in the town, if not the whole of Kent, and it needs to be. Numerous awards, including CAT’s Large Garage of the Year in 2017 and a strong local reputation have allowed the business to expand to accommodate the volume of work.

However, big ideas start small, and the credit for starting the business goes to Derek Pestridge, who founded it in 1983 after acquiring his first workshop unit in Ashford. The decision for Derek to do this was simple, it was time to ‘better himself’ by taking the next step in his automotive career, having worked for various automotive companies including a VW dealership Euro Charing. “He founded the business with his friend Dave Woollett, hence where the name ‘D&D Autos’
comes from” explained Derek’s daughter and Operations Manager Lorraine Fuller. “He went on to acquire the units adjacent to the main workshop, which saw the start of MOT testing. The business continued to grow”.

As part of major expansion plans, in 2009, the independent relocated from its old site in the town to a purpose-built 10,000 sq ft. facility, situated on the Orbital Park Industrial Estate. Of course, moving to a bigger site didn’t come without its complications as Fuller pointed out: “We were aware that we may lose customers moving away from our Victoria site that was five minutes away from Ashford town centre and the railway station. However, we introduced a courtesy shuttle service and new courtesy vehicles to help customers get to and from the site, so as to help make our customer’s collection and delivery of vehicles as simple as possible”.

EXPANSION
Since the move, the firm has enjoyed steady growth over the years, growing its workforce from 11 to 23 staff whilst building up its customer base through a number of marketing initiatives. On our arrival, the sitting area was neat and tidy with the company logo sported across the foyer walls. We were welcomed by front-of-house staff who were busy dealing with the Monday rush of customer calls and parts orders as the local TPS van made its morning delivery.

Although Derek has taken a backseat to the business, he can still be found around the workshop replacing a clutch or conducting an MOT test to assist sons Matthew and Richard who have stepped into their father’s shoes.

The workshop space itself is quite impressive, home to 13 ramps and two MOT bays designed for servicing class one, two, four, five and seven
vehicles. The move from the old site has also allowed the workshop to take on more diagnostic work for fleets as well as picking up some jobs delegated from dealerships in and around the Orbital Business Park.

ALL MAKES
“We fix cars of all makes and models and that’s basically the crux of it”, Matthew remarked when we asked how the business maintained a steady flow of work. “We never outsource any work. Everything is completed in-house”.

Matthew notes that he is keen to get all his technicians qualified on these systems over the year. He explained: “We have started seeing more hybrid and electric vehicles coming through the workshop. Some of the technicians and I have started training on these systems through Bosch, but the company plan for D&D Autos is to get everyone in the workshop into some hybrid training”.

Another project is to sell used cars on site, following a new partnership with the AA. Matthew elaborated: “With the reputation we have, we’re always getting customers asking about buying cars, so we are going to see if we can make it work for the business as another add on for D&D. He concluded, “When we roll this out, we are going to do AA warranties, because we’re already signed up for the recoveries when we went through the process of becoming an AA-approved garage.”

For the future, the family have yet more big ideas, possibly including an extra site. We’ll be interested to see how they get on.

Posted in Garage News, News, Out and About with CATComments (0)

CHARGING UP BUSINESS MARGINS

CHARGING UP BUSINESS MARGINS

There are plenty of battery charger brands out there, but how are firms standing out from the competition?

Noco Genius series

Consolidation is the buzzword of our industry at the moment, but it isn’t just reserved for the factor groups, suppliers are part of this trend too. “There has been a lot of consolidation of battery brands with only a few major players left in the market.” said Gary Vincent, Sales Manager of American battery charger firm Noco.

While battery brands are shrinking, he says the opposite is true of chargers, “In terms of battery chargers, there is an increasing number of battery charger brands entering the market from the far-east with little actual battery charging experience and just looking to make quick money on places like Amazon,” he said, adding that this has had a knock-on effect on product quality and safety in the marketplace.

TRAINING
To maintain quality standards and be one of the ‘go-to’ brands for battery chargers, Noco has heavily invested in a number of marketing initiatives, technologies and training programmes to maintain customer retention while providing new clients with the technical know-how to up-sell its chargers in store. “Technical training forms part of the Noco on-boarding process for new customers so they can confidently advise and sell across the range,” said Vincent. “We see a continued trend towards lithium-ion batteries in all markets, and all of our chargers contain a specialised lithium charging mode. However, most competitors focus on their attention on charging fast, whereas we focus on return of capacity whilst restoring the specific gravity to optimal level, which can sometimes lead to slightly longer recharge times.”

The design and packaging can also bring many plusses to retailers stocking them as Vincent highlights: “Our chargers and packaging is extremely compact, which typically saves retailers upwards of four times in retailer footprint. These not only allow retailers room to add additional SKU’s, but also saves on logistical costs.”

NEW PRODUCTS
Taking a slightly different stance on battery charging is Swedish battery charger firm CTEK. As previously mentioned in CAT, the firm recently introduced its ‘CT5 Time To Go’ device, which informs users when their battery is fully charged, through a series of LED lights that monitor the state of charge of the battery. The tool is used in conjunction with the firm’s new ‘Battery Sense’ dongle, which tracks the vehicle’s battery health. The concept behind this was to encourage more motorists to check their battery regularly in order to prevent further breakdowns, particularly during the colder months when this component is at its most vulnerable. Sten Hammargren, Consumer Business Unit at CTEK, elaborated: “The Battery Sense tool is easy to install and data is delivered through a free to download iPhone or Android App. Battery Sense means no worrying about charge levels or when to charge; providing valuable information about the vehicle’s battery in a simple, user-friendly way.”

In addition, the maker is conducting ongoing training sessions for factors and distributors via its Skillsbase programme, allowing them to gain a thorough understanding of the firm’s wares. This is further supported with marketing materials such as product sheets, brochures and promotional films for additional advice and guidance. “Understanding how our products can be used to meet the needs and demands of the end user is a strong factor in choosing the right products to generate sales opportunities”, said Hammargren, “Our Skillsbase programme is helping our customers to gain comprehensive CTEK knowledge and develop essential skills and understanding to maximise profit margins.”

In a similar vein, Banner Batteries is raising awareness and the importance of battery chargers and maintenance to its retail network in the form of ‘visually appealing’ display units and marketing materials including a pocket guide leaflet for its Accucharger range. Lee Quinney, Country Manager at Banner, elaborated: “Developed to ensure that modern lead-acid batteries attain their anticipated long service life through regular and necessary equalisation charges, each Accucharger is more than capable of powering up any starter battery easily, fully automatically and safely. In addition to their functionality and suitability for all 6/12V lead acid batteries, they are appealing in terms of their design aesthetics and have already been widely adopted by Banner’s distributors and their customers.”, he concluded.

Posted in Batteries, CAT Features, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

THE RIGHT PART GOES BEHIND WHAT FITS

THE RIGHT PART GOES BEHIND WHAT FITS

The rules around replacement parts are complex, but worth getting your head around, writes BM Catalysts Commercial Director Mark Blinston.

While there might be more hot air than hard facts about emissions across the mainstream press about vehicle emissions, there can be no doubt that reducing toxic gas and restoring trust in the motor industry is the greatest problem faced by the trade at the moment.

Everything is geared towards reducing emissions and much of the emphasis seems to be pointed towards vehicles and how we can reduce the impact that they are having on air quality. You may be wondering what we can do about it in the aftermarket; but one thing we can do is making sure the right part is fitted to the right vehicle based on the emissions standard of the vehicle in question – the Euro level.

Vehicles and replacement emission control devices must meet specific standards for exhaust emissions before they can be offered for sale in the European Union. Emissions limits are commonly referred to as Euro standards or levels.

Emissions are measured using a standardised test cycle called the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The NEDC was last updated in 1997 and is gradually
being replaced by the World Light Test Procedure (WLTP), which is designed to better replicate real driving conditions. WLTP is now being applied to new vehicles (types) but does not yet apply to replacement parts.

In order to test the durability of each part emission test results are most frequently multiplied by a deterioration factor; with the adjusted result then compared to the legislative limit. Deterioration factors are designed to simulate the likely change in performance of the part after it has aged with use over time. These deterioration factors have become more stringent over time, and so when coupled with the gradual lowering of limits it becomes considerably harder to achieve a pass when testing newer parts and newer vehicles. The largest increase in deterioration factors occurred between Euro four and Euro five.

In order to meet higher emission standards, it is frequently found that the OEM part is made to a higher specification than the lower EU level part it has superseded. Legislation requires a comparison of performance between a replacement part and its OE equivalent and so it naturally follows that tougher standards + higher deterioration factors + higher performing OE parts = a real need for a higher specification replacement part.

RIGHT LEVEL

The Euro level of each vehicle prescribed at the point at which that vehicle is Type Approved. A replacement part cannot be approved to a lower Euro level than that of the original vehicle; so if the vehicle is Euro five then the replacement must be approved to Euro five levels/limits. Testing and approving this part to Euro four would mean that it cannot be proven that it meets the relevant emissions standards and therefore cannot legally be fitted to any Euro five vehicle.

There are many catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter (DPF) references that appear to be physically identical but are, in fact, designed and approved for vehicles that carry different Euro levels. This is made possible as the internal specification of the part is largely the key to the emissions performance of the vehicle. For example, the Euro five version of the close-coupled cat for the Citroen C1 requires a specification that is more than 3 times that of the Euro four version of the part. A similar story is true of the Euro four/five Fiat five00 and Ford KA. Quite apart from it being illegal to fit the Euro four version to a Euro five vehicle, it will cause poor emissions performance with a much higher chance of related vehicle issues and potential part warranty returns. It can be easy to source the cheapest product which isn’t necessarily approved to the correct Euro level – the consequence of which is then a part that will actually not perform to the standards required.

CATALOGUE
The correct cataloguing of aftermarket parts is complex and challenging and many consumers will not be aware of the Euro level of their vehicle. It is therefore down to the garage and parts distributor to ensure that the part that is being sourced is approved for sale to the correct Euro level of the vehicle in question. This is something that has recently been identified as a “problem” in the aftermarket whereby parts can be physically the same, catalogued with the same start and close dates yet be very different both in terms of the internals and what they are legally approved for sale to fit.

In an effort to reduce the number of occasions that the incorrect part is being supplied and fitted to the vehicle, MAM (Autocat) will shortly be introducing the Euro level as a search criteria when identifying the correct part for a particular vehicle. Manufacturers of catalysts and DPFs will be asked to submit the Euro level for which their part has been homologated to enable an accurate match upon lookup. This is a positive step that the aftermarket is taking to reduce vehicle emissions.

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

RETAIL TRADE FACES ‘UNCERTAIN FUTURE’

RETAIL TRADE FACES ‘UNCERTAIN FUTURE’

New car registrations continue to fall

The UK’s motor retail and parts industries face an ‘uncertain future’ as the number of firms in ‘significant financial distress’ according to a new report.

The research, published by insolvency firm Begbies Traynor shows that both new and used car dealers are having a very hard time as new registrations continue to fall. Interestingly, the firm cites a glut of used cars on the market as one of the reasons for used car dealer’s distress, rather than the number of pre Euro-5 vehicles taken out of the market as a result of scrappage schemes offered by various VMs.

Over the past year, the level of ‘significant distress’ for used car dealers rose by a third to 1851 dealers, compared with the same period in the previous year.

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Consumers up and down the country are tightening their belts in the face of rising inflation, increased interest rates and real wage pressures, causing households to put the handbrake on spending on big ticket purchases, and encouraging many to hold on to their vehicles for longer”.

“Even those owners looking to upgrade their vehicles are struggling to do so, as a recent glut of second hand cars on the market continues to depress the value of second hand motors while making new vehicles and their hefty price tags even less appealing”.

New car dealerships fair little better, with consumer confusion regarding diesel legislation and a lack of electric infrastructure keeping would-be car buyers away. Worryingly, the findings chime with the results of a KPMG survey released at the same time that predicts over half of all dealerships in the UK could close within eight years, leading a number of dealer principals and other motor industry executive to state that the only way these businesses can survive is to convert to a used car dealer and/or repurpose to becoming an independent service garage (see page 5).

FINANCIAL HEALTH

The Begbies Traynor findings were published in the firm’s Red Flag alerts, which monitors the financial health of UK companies. It warns that a number of macro-economic pressures last year contributed to this considerable increase in distress, with the combination of rising inflation, stagnant real wage growth, a weak
pound, political uncertainty, November’s rise in interest rates, and the ever-tightening credit environment putting increasing financial stress on businesses across the country. As a result, 258,349 UK businesses ended the year in a position of negative net worth, while a further 154,251 demonstrated a ‘worrying increase’ in their working capital deficit.

Palmer added: “When the overall business environment is so challenging, unfortunately there can be few real winners, however certain sectors of the economy are certainly feeling the pinch more than others. In particular, the vast UK support services sector saw a spike in distress as their stretched customers reined back spending. The construction industry saw the lowest levels of optimism in five years while the real estate sector felt the full impact of the increasingly stagnant UK housing market”.

Posted in Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, UncategorisedComments (1)

BREAKING: ECP MANAGEMENT ISSUE STATEMENT ON ANDREW PAGE CLOSURES

BREAKING: ECP MANAGEMENT ISSUE STATEMENT ON ANDREW PAGE CLOSURES

LATEST: Regarding yesterday’s CAT story on a number of Andrew Page branches that were suddenly closed, the following written statement has been issued by a Euro Car Parts spokesman:

“We can confirm that we have closed 10 Andrew Page branches, following the completion of a recent business operational review by the Andrew Page Management team.  There are no plans to close any further Andrew Page branches. We are currently working with employees at affected branches to look for alternative options within the ECP or Andrew Page network, and working closely with customers of these affected branches.”

Andrew Page is the nation’s oldest factor brand, having celebrated its centenary in 2017. The company briefly went into administration in 2016 before being bought by Euro Car Parts in 2016. 

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Latest News, News, special news, UncategorisedComments (1)

BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE BRANCH CLOSURES

BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE BRANCH CLOSURES

Ten branches of Andrew Page have been closed.

 

Carlisle and Ellesmere port closed last week. Cardiff, Peterborough, Kettering, Shrewsbury,Chesterfield and three others closed on Monday. Calls we made to affected branches diverted to a nearby Euro Car PArts.  Meanwhile, managers from other branches took part in conference call on Tuesday.  

 

In a written statement, a spokesman for ECP said: “We can confirm that we have closed 10 Andrew Page branches, following the completion of a recent business operational review by the Andrew Page Management team.  There are no plans to close any further Andrew Page branches. We are currently working with employees at affected branches to look for alternative options within the ECP or Andrew Page network, and working closely with customers of these affected branches.”

 

Andrew Page was bought by the parent company of rival Euro Car Parts in 2016 immediately after the former went into administration. Following a lengthy investigation by the  Competition and Markets Authority, nine depots were proscribed to be closed in the interest of not ‘significantly reducing competition’

 

Interestingly, none of the branches closed over the past week were on the CMA list. Liphook, Scunthourpe, Wakefield and York were on the list, but remain on the company’s depot finder.

Note: This story has been updated to include the statement from ECP

 

 

 

Andrew Page closes branches

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Latest News, Mag Info, News, special newsComments (14)

INDUSTRY REACTS AS 4-1-1 MOT IS SCRAPPED

INDUSTRY REACTS AS 4-1-1 MOT IS SCRAPPED

Following the news that a proposal to change the frequency of the first MOT test to four years instead of three has been scrapped by the government, the industry has reacted with delight.

The IAAFs Wendy Williamson said: “It is an understatement to say that we are delighted that these plans have now been scrapped, which comes as a result of all the hard efforts of IAAF as well as the whole of the industry. From the outset, we’ve vigorously fought these proposals, which threatened not just the aftermarket but more crucially, motorists’ safety.

“To ensure as safe and cost-effective motoring as possible, motorists must have their vehicle inspected and serviced regularly. Given that figures suggest one in five vehicles fail their MOT in the first three years, moving to an extended testing period would have potentially caused more accidents and fatalities due to defective vehicles on UK roads.”

The federation has worked relentlessly alongside other industry bodies to fight the unwelcome legislation and is part of the ProMOTe campaign being run by the AALG (Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group) to protect the safety of all road users.

The VMs dealer networks have also welcomed the proposal. Sue Robinson, Director of the RMI’s National Franchised Dealer Assoc. commented: “The NFDA had previously highlighted the potentially devastating road safety implications which extending the date of the first MoT from three to four years might have had. It is extremely positive to see that the government has acknowledged this.”

Also welcoming the news are factor groups. ECP’s CEO Martin Gray said: “We applaud the Minister’s decision to put road safety first. As we highlighted in our consultation to the government around 17% of cars fail their first MoT on their initial attempt, so extending a car’s first MoT to four years could have resulted in an extra 410,000 unsafe cars on the roads and risk higher accident rates. The three-year-for-first MoT system ensures vehicle defects are picked up and remedied quickly, to ensure the safety of all road users”.

“We’d like to thank all those in the industry petitioned the government. It is our belief, and that of the wider sector, that road users’ safety will be maintained as a result of this decision.”

However, not everyone is delighted with the decision. A poster on the Daily Express website set the tone for the majority of reader comments by saying: “Again rip off UK. In Spain first MOT at four years and then every two years until the vehicle is ten years old then every year. Garages must have done a lot of lobbying”.

Mixed responses for 4-1-1 proposition

 

 

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

TRADE CONNECTIONS KEEP OBD PORT OPEN

TRADE CONNECTIONS KEEP OBD PORT OPEN

The latest rumblings from Europe are that the OBD port will remain to be fitted to vehicles, even in the age of ‘over the air’ diagnostics and software updates.

Lobbying from various trade groups, both in the UK and on the Continent have persuaded the EU council’s main preparatory body has agreed that the socket should remain.

All is not plain sailing however. There is still the possibility of the legislation being vetoed as it has to be voted on by both the EU Parliament and the EU Council, plus the ruling states that the port only has to work ‘when the vehicle is in motion’, meaning VMs could still get around key-on-engine-off diagnostics.

The IAAF was one of the trade bodies involved in the negotiations. Chief Executive Wendy Williamson said: “This is fantastic news, and although not the end game it’s a significant step towards keeping the OBD port alive.

“The missing OBD connector would impact not just on garages but the entire spare parts supply chain including manufacturers, distributors, producers of diagnostic equipment and dedicated software for the OBD connector, as well as millions of consumers who would no longer have a competitive choice in vehicle servicing and repair.”

The agreement will now need to be approved by the EP IMCO Committee before it is submitted for approval. If approved by the European Parliament, the new regulation will come into play from 1 September 2020.

 

Posted in Garage News, Latest News, News, special newsComments (0)

NEW HELLA HENGST FILTERS FOR WORKSHOPS

NEW HELLA HENGST FILTERS FOR WORKSHOPS

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA

Hella Hengst portfolio

HELLA, a leading original equipment (OE) manufacturer and system supplier to the global automotive industry, has recently added antibacterial carbon activated cabin filters to the HELLA Hengst range of OE quality filters.

The 38 new-to-range (NTR) references are available for a variety of vehicles, including Ford Focus C-Max, Mercedes Benz A and C class, and Sprinter, as well as Audi A3, A4 and A5. The range also extends to the majority of VW and SEAT models. These additions, which will be available from early 2018, can be easily identified with the letters ‘LB’ marked on the end of the HELLA Hengst part numbers.

The main difference between the HELLA Hengst carbon activated cabin filter and the new antibacterial version is that while both have excellent odour reduction properties, the latter can also reduce allergy problems caused by contaminants such as bacteria and mould fungi, which enter the passenger compartment through the ventilation system, thus tackling one of the growing issues facing road users by directly addressing the health concerns of vehicle occupants.

Today, modern vehicles have cabin filters located in a variety of places and that are sometimes challenging to fit, making it difficult for installers to service or replace them. To further assist technicians, HELLA Hengst provides easy-to-follow installation instructions for all cabin filter types, including their locations, in every product pack.

As these additions demonstrate, the HELLA Hengst range is consistently growing and with a complete range of 1,500 premium quality filters across 90,000 applications for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, the company is showing its commitment to deliver the very best in terms of quality and availability to support the independent aftermarket.

For more information about the new HELLA Hengst filtration range, contact our sales team on 01295 662324 or email hella.hengst@hella.com

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Featured Sidebar, Filters, Garage News, Industry Insight, Retailer NewsComments (0)

HELLA ANNOUNCES NEW PLANT AND BUSINESS DEAL

HELLA ANNOUNCES NEW PLANT AND BUSINESS DEAL

Hella and BHAP tie the knot

AS PART OF growing demand for its vehicle lighting systems, Hella has opened a new production plant in Tianjin, China valued in low-to medium double-digit million euro.

The opening of the site follows a joint venture between Hella and Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts Co. Ltd. (BHAP) – a subsidiary of the BAIC Group, which will see both parties collaborate on LED headlamps, rear combination lamps, car body lighting and interior lighting under the newly formed entity, ‘Hella-BHAP’.

Markus Banner, Member of the Hella Management Board, said: “The new plant will strengthen our market position on one of the world’s major automotive markets. When extending our structures locally here on site, we are also very consciously counting on collaboration with successful Chinese partners such as BHAP. And that is because such cooperation means that we will be able to meet the needs of local customers even better than ever before.”

“Tianjin, where the new factory is located, is of strategic importance to the Chinese automotive industry as many of our key customers are located nearby”, said BHAP General Manager Chen Bao, “Hella is a perfect partner for BHAP, and we join hands to develop the automotive lighting business in this region and provide our clients with the best services and support,” adding that its cooperation will gradually expand into  electronics and aftermarket.

The new location employs100 staff with plans to extend this number to 250, along with its current site and 12,000 sq m production facility in due course.

 

Posted in Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Lighting, News, Retailer News, UncategorisedComments (0)

Advertisement
  • It has been the grimmest month for the High Street, so what can accessory retailers do?
  • Bentley Lifestyle: A specialist talks tips of the trade
  • Keep it rolling: New challenges in the S&S sector

more info

    • Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
    • Popular
    • Latest
    • Comments
    • Tags
    • Subscribe