Archive | February, 2018

FILLING GAPS IN THE MARKET

FILLING GAPS IN THE MARKET

Sean (L) and son Daniel (R)

Sean Brown shows CAT around Brown & Geeson in Wickford, Essex

Today we are Essex-bound visiting Brown & Geeson – a parts supplier and manufacturer that’s had a strong presence in the motorsport sector since its inception over 50 years ago.

BACKSTORY
In fact, the company first started out as an accessory shop in Chadwell Heath, set up by father and son duo Ray Brown and Arthur Geeson, which saw the integration of B-G aftermarket accessories in the form of fuel pumps, seat covers and wheel trims among various other components. However, the turning point in business came when Ray discovered the importance of self-branding, as his son Sean explained: “At the time, my father realised that by buying something in, putting his name on it and in his own packaging, he could sell his products worldwide and that’s how the business started to grow”.

Following expansion plans, the business partners relocated to larger sites in Plaistow East London and Dagenham, Essex respectively, where bespoke production facilities were introduced for serving VMs, importers and parts manufacturers across the country and abroad. This eventually led to another desirable location in Wickford in the mid 90’s, however, there were plenty of major changes ahead: “The UK manufacturing industry back then was quite tough, so myself and my father Ray made a decision to sell all contracts, machinery, shutdown the company and start what was ‘Brown & Geeson Distribution’.” said Sean. “The decision was taken to come out of manufacturing and concentrate on buying and selling from where Brown & Geeson originally started” adding that the firm eventually reclaimed its original name and returned to manufacturing, that’s now outsourced overseas.

BRANDING
As it stands, Sean and son Daniel head-up the operation of whom have extensive experience in motosport both on and off track. They greeted and took us through to an office space displaying styling products such as the infamous Momo steering wheel and numerous accessories behind shiny glass cabinets, along with mannequins dressed head to toe in Team GB race wear.

Display bits and pieces aside, Sean was keen to get down to business and discuss the B-G Racing brand that is now in its sixth year. Speaking of how it came about, he said: “What we needed to do with Brown & Geeson was go back to the old days where we sold boxes with BG logos on it. I believe there are products not only for pit equipment but also for setup equipment.” He continued: “On travels around the world, I have visited paddocks in Europe and noticed gaps in the market for premium products. I thought I could create something similar and bring it to the masses, not only to ‘educate’ but give the top teams a quality product for an affordable price.” He adds that the BG platform has been well received so far as the organisation’s distribution base now stretches globally.

Barcoding system has proved effective

Daniel agrees and expands on his father’s sentiment: “The B-G Racing brand is growing steadily everyday. We target distributors in different countries so instead of selling directly to the public, we target trade and retail shops in France, Germany and many more countries. We try and offer them a whole catalogue solution so they can source all their necessary parts from one place to simplify the purchasing process”.

Sean notes that the team have recently released their Seventh Edition catalogue packed with vehicle, setup and pit equipment for motorsport and aftermarket companies. Some of the popular sells he notes include: lift jacks, work mats and hub stands, plus camber/ caster gauges and levelling trays for technicians whether they’re working in a garage or pit lane. In addition, the brand is a supplier of car components from Australian firm Aeroflow Performance and Mittler Bros Machine & Tool.

After a business insight, Daniel and Sean provided us with a tour of the facility. During our tour, the shop floor seemed well organised with Momo and B-G Racing wares stacked along the aisles in an orderly fashion as they await distribution. The top floor comprised of more styling accessories and an in-house studio where new products are photographed before being uploaded to the firm’s website. To speed up productivity, Daniel told CAT that a new barcoding system has recently been implemented to get the product logged, onto the shelves and out the door to reduce stock discrepancies with customer orders.
Of course, with any queries that may arise, the sales and admin department are on-hand and who were very busy on our arrival dealing with customer calls and queries both nationally and internationally.

Although the duo have acquired some new OEM and workshop projects, everything is being kept top secret until completion later this year.

But for now, Daniel and Sean’s main objective is spreading the BG footprint while continuing to produce products to help bridge gaps in the market. We look forward to catching up with the team very soon.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer NewsComments (0)

NEW MACHINERY FORMS PART OF £1m KLARIUS PLANT UPGRADE

NEW MACHINERY FORMS PART OF £1m KLARIUS PLANT UPGRADE

Bill Cash switches Vector Pipe line on for service

Emissions parts manufacturer Klarius Products has invested in a second Vector Pipe Line machine at its facility in Cheadle.

The machine is part of a £1m investment in the plant. Standing at least as tall as a double decker bus, it turns aluminised steel strip into corrosion resistant pipe used in the manufacture of exhaust systems.

Local MP Sir Bill Cash came to cut the ribbon and press the button to start it up. Paul Hannah, Business Development Director said: “It was a great opportunity to thank everyone in the Klarius team, all three hundred of them for their hard work and underline why it is so important to our business. Also, by investing in our own machine tool manufacture and refurbishment business we are not only improving Klarius production machinery, but also developing skills and growth within the UK economy”.

Other recent investments for the firm include a new van fleet and a new manufacturing line producing automotive service aerosols and fluids.

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

UK TRADE SHOW RETURNS TO BIRMINGHAM

UK TRADE SHOW RETURNS TO BIRMINGHAM

PROMO ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM

This summer, Birmingham will again become the central hub for the UK’s automotive industry as it unites with Automechanika Birmingham, bringing thousands of visitors to the region.

For the third year running, the UK’s leading trade exhibition for the automotive industry will be making a welcome return to Birmingham NEC on 5 to 7June, where an increase in visitors is anticipated thanks to a raft of new initiatives, networking opportunities and extended opening hours for automotive repair garages.

With UK manufacturing continuing to climb up the global rankings in a post-Brexit era, it currently helps power the engine of the West Midlands (£17.5 billion) and East Midlands (£15.9 billion), with their strength across the aerospace and automotive sectors.

With this in mind, Automechanika Birmingham represents the ideal opportunity to continue to support this growing market in a central, accessible and relevant location, also bringing the sector to a city synonymous with the motor trade with the region’s heritage immersed in automotive growth and success.

To help leverage this global economic potential, this year’s event is launching a facilitated meetings programme to allow visitors to pre-arrange meetings with exhibitors, ensuring that visitors maximise their time and an increase of business conversations are held on exhibitor stands.

More than 500 exhibitors are due to attend for 2018, with 85% of 2017 visitors intending to return to the exhibition, which will house a newly improved layout.

What’s more, organisers at this year’s show have widened the appeal across the aftermarket sector, including a new, dedicated Garage Quarter, hosting tools and garage equipment suppliers looking to meet the growing number of independent garages attending the event.

The West Midlands is no stranger to the automotive trade with global brands Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, MG Rover Group and more recently Aston Martin dominating the UK automotive industry’s history.

Simon Albert, Event Director of Automechanika Birmingham, said: “After last year’s success with a turnout of around 12,000 visitors, we’ve no doubt that this year’s event will cement Automechanika Birmingham’s’ position as the UK’s most valuable meeting place for the automotive industry, uniting the very best of the UK aftermarket and vehicle production sector.

“The importance of the UK automotive industry to the economy is evident, particularly now more than ever. As we believe the sector will provide a key role in our global economic standing, we’re now calling on regional businesses to get behind the event and support the UK automotive industry.”
Many of the exhibitors will announce special show deals, offers and competitions in time for the show. Visitors can benefit from an enhanced programme of live events featuring live technical demonstrations, free training and keynote speakers.

This year’s event at the NEC Birmingham, running from 5-7 June 2018, will welcome vehicle production exhibitors in Hall 6, aftermarket suppliers in Hall20 and a dedicated Garage Quarter in Hall 19.

Visitors looking to sign up can register for their free ticket here: https://www.automechanika-birmingham.com/welcome/get-your-free-ticket

Posted in Featured Sidebar, Industry InsightComments (0)

MAKING FAIR DISMISSALS

MAKING FAIR DISMISSALS

Deciding who makes the cut and telling those who haven’t is never easy. Here are a few tips to smooth the process

No employer likes to make employees redundant. Unfortunately, as the recent decision for 100 planned redundancies at the AA illustrates, and the announced Andrew Page branch closures might mean, sometimes difficult decisions do need to be made.

For the process to work properly, it is important that redundancy dismissals are handled sensitively and in accordance with the law. Any employer that fails to comply with its legal obligations during a redundancy situation could face complaints from employees and claims for compensation for unfair dismissal as a result.

WHAT IS A REDUNDANCY SITUATION?
In an employment law context, redundancy has a very specific meaning. To summarise, the statutory definition of redundancy identifies three sets of circumstances that amount to redundancy situations – a business closure; workplace closure; or reduced requirements of the business for employees to do work of a particular kind.

There is no mandatory procedure laid down by legislation in England and Wales for fairly dismissing an employee for redundancy reasons. Instead, employers must follow a fair procedure involving individual consultation. Dismissal decisions must be fair and reasonable. Case law has determined various principles of fairness that an employer should follow in order to reduce the risk of employees pursuing claims for unfair dismissal.

Generally, these principles require an employer to give employees early warning of the risk of dismissal; consult with employees (and the union if required); identify an appropriate “at risk” pool for redundancy; draw up and apply fair selection criteria; and give consideration to alternative employment.

CONSULTATIONS

First, an employer looking to make a number of employees redundant must check whether the obligation to engage in collective consultation exists. Where there is a proposal to make 20 or more employees at one site redundant within a 90-day period, the employer must engage in collective consultation with a trade union. If no trade union is recognised for that particular employer, then an employee representative will need to be elected, with whom the employer will need to consult. The employer will also need to notify the secretary of state of the number of planned redundancies.

Employers should seek specific advice in circumstances where multiple redundancies are planned as there are a number of obligations.

Even where a collective redundancy situation does not arise, consulting with the employee(s) at risk of redundancy is absolutely vital and will be central to the fairness (or otherwise) of the decision to dismiss. Consultation should be genuine and take place at a time when the employer can properly consider the employees views and suggestions – that is, before the final decision is made.

THE “AT RISK” POOL
Before selecting an employee or employees for redundancy, an employer must consider what the appropriate pool of employees for redundancy selection should be. Otherwise the dismissal is likely to be unfair.

There are no fixed rules about how the pool should be defined and, unless there is a collectively agreed or customary selection pool, an employer has a wide measure of flexibility here.

The question of how the pool should be defined is primarily a matter for the employer to determine and, provided an employer genuinely applies its mind to the choice of a pool, it will be difficult for an employee (or a tribunal) to challenge the choice.

Factors that are likely to be relevant to identifying a pool are the type of work is ceasing or diminishing; the extent to which employees are doing similar work (possibly even those at other locations); and the extent to which employees’ jobs are interchangeable within the workforce.

SELECTION CRITERIA AND SCORING
Once an employer has identified the employees in the at risk pool, it will need to apply selection criteria to determine those at risk of redundancy. To do this, employers will need to develop appropriate selection criteria. The criteria, which of course must be objective and fair, might want to look at things like disciplinary record, length of service and performance. Criteria which relate to protected characteristics such as age, disability, religion or sex must be ignored.

The employer will need to mark each of the potentially redundant employees according to the finalised selection criteria.

Different weighting can be given to different criteria. It can also be useful to ask different managers to independently score employees in the at risk pool in order to ensure objectivity.

ALTERNATIVES TO REDUNDANCY
In many cases, consultation between employer and an employee who is at risk of redundancy will be focused on finding an alternative to dismissal on redundancy grounds. Employers should be prepared to discuss the steps that it has taken, or has considered taking, to reduce the risk of (or number of) redundancies. This might include things like a recruitment freeze and terminating the engagements of agency workers before embarking on the redundancy process.

Equally, employers should provide details of any vacancies to employees who are at risk of redundancy in order to minimise the number of dismissals that might need to be made.

STATUTORY PAY
Lastly, when making redundancies, employers should bear in mind that employees are entitled to an SRP payment where they are dismissed by reason of redundancy and have at least two years continuous employment at the date of the dismissal. The calculation for this can found at: gov.uk/calculate-your-redundancy-pay

Managing a redundancy process to ensure fairness can be difficult. It is crucial that an employer carefully plans the process at its beginning and critically before consultation with employees begins. Getting it wrong can have a big impact – in addition to potentially facing unfair dismissal claims, a poorly planned redundancy process may end up alienating the workforce at a time when the employer requires everyone to be particularly focused on the job at hand and morale is low.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (1)

UNION ASKS AA TO CONSIDER ‘DEBT FOR EQUITY’ SWAP

UNION ASKS AA TO CONSIDER ‘DEBT FOR EQUITY’ SWAP

AA faces a tough few years

The GMB union is calling on the directors of the AA to give ‘serious consideration to negotiations’ on converting debts to equity to relieve growing pressures on the day to day operation of the business from having to service the £2.7 billion debt mountain inherited from the private equity previous owners. This follows an announcement by AA on a profits warning and dividend cuts.

On 21st February, the AA announced that profits will be £50m lower than forecast and that it is cutting the dividend from 9.3p per share to 2p. Debts are nearly eight times net free cash flow, an unusually high amount. AA membership figures are also down.

The figures came as AA CEO Simon Breakwell announced a three-year ‘strategic review’ of the business, which included modernising the breakdown service with new IT systems
and connected car technologies, while also increasing the reach of its insurance services.

CAT has seen an all-staff email from Breakwell. In it, he admits that ‘the reality is that many of you are working against the odds’. He mentions the speed of dispatch, stretched patrols and the reliance on third party garaging as reasons why the service has been pushed. He also mentions the legacy IT systems used by the organisation ‘that do not always allow call handlers to access the information they need quickly when dealing with breakdowns’. He adds that these old systems are now being upgraded ‘to allow us to deliver our strategy’.

Paul Grafton, Regional Officer at the GMB union welcomed the sentiments in Breakwell’s email for ‘recognising the pressures staff are facing in the day to day operations of the business’

He added: “Directors need to now face up to and deal with the fundamental cause of the pressures- the £2.7bn debt mountain inherited from the private equity owners.

“When debts are more than two times net cash flows, warning lights flash in any normal business. At AA, the ratio is nearly eight times. It is not sustainable. No amount of hopeful scenarios will make it so. Growing the insurance business, patrols selling more batteries and tyres and in car diagnostics will never fix this”.

“It won’t be easy but AA directors have to give serious consideration to negotiations on converting debts to equity to relieve growing pressures on the day to day operation of the business”.

The news follows a report in last month’s CAT of how the AA announced 100 redundancies and closed a training centre. Despite bad headlines, the AA brand remains strong, topping a poll of the UK’s ‘Most loved brands’ several years running.

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

SECOND ‘EURO ACADEMY’ OPENED IN SUNDERLAND

SECOND ‘EURO ACADEMY’ OPENED IN SUNDERLAND

Factor giant Euro Car Parts has opened its second purpose-built training centre in Sunderland. The facility will deliver the full range of Euro Academy courses with an IMI-accredited ADAS course also available.

 The centre is fully equipped with an Automated Test Lane (ATL) for MOT training, multiple lifts and a fleet of dedicated training vehicles. In addition to offering repairers access to the latest training backed by major parts manufacturers, the Academy also gives technicians the opportunity to try out the factor’s product range.

Courses delivered at the new training facility range from electrics and diagnostics to hybrid vehicle servicing and customer care. Most courses are run over the course of one to two days and some have an e-learning element enabling repairers to go away and undergo further training.

 Speaking about Euro Academy, Bill Stimson, Technical Sales Director at Euro Car Parts, said: “With alternatively-fuelled vehicles on the horizon and diagnostics a daily reality, training is becoming more important for repairers. With the addition of our new Sunderland training centre supporting our existing Avonmouth facility, we are developing a comprehensive, nationwide training provision, which is accessible to all independent repairers”.

 “Training has become a core area of our business over recent years and our aim is to grow our offering to repairers, adding further training centres to our network this year” he concluded

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

DIESEL VEHICLES TO BE BANNED IN GERMAN CITIES

DIESEL VEHICLES TO BE BANNED IN GERMAN CITIES

German cities will be allowed to ban older diesels from entering, following a court ruling. Dusseldorf and the car-building city of Stuttgart can now force pre-Euro IV vehicles off the road in a case brought by environmental pressure group Deutche Umwelthilfe (DUH).

The Federal Government has opposed the move, leading commentators to criticise how close it is to the domestic car industry. The decision from the Federal Administrative Court comes after a legal challenge to the case was mounted by German states.

Presiding Judge Andreas Korbmacher wanted to deliberate the issue ‘very thoroughly’ and delayed reaching a verdict for several days.

Analysts believe that the ruling will set a precedent across other cities in Europe, though many French cities already have ‘CritAir’ that restrict pre-Euro IV vehicles and the UK has various Low Emission zones, which vary in size and restriction, but have a similar aim to the French system.

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

TEXTAR BRAKE PADS ACHIEVE RESULTS IN AMS BRAKING TEST

TEXTAR BRAKE PADS ACHIEVE RESULTS IN AMS BRAKING TEST

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF TEXTAR

Global OE friction manufacturer, TMD Friction, has proved the quality of its Textar aftermarket brakes in an AMS braking test that scored Textar above the competition and original equipment manufactured material (OEM).

An Audi A5 and VW Passat Variant test vehicles were loaded to the permissible gross vehicle weight along with two passengers. The car was brought to a standstill by braking from a speed of 100 km/h ten times in a row. The first and the tenth braking applications were evaluated to provide information about the characteristics of the brake pads when they were cold and hot.

Textar competed against three competitor brands and the respective OEM material, with both test vehicles equipped with ex works. Overall, Textar achieved the best results compared to the competitors’ products and the VW Passat Variant scored even better results than the OEM material. The Audi A5 with Textar brakes performed identical to the OEM material, for cold and hot braking, and was the most stable performer in comparison with its competitors. The difference between the first and tenth braking application was only 0.2 m, the same as the amount achieved by the brake pad fitted as part of the original equipment from the manufacturer. The biggest deviation by a competitor was 2.8 m.

For cold braking, Textar brake pads and all three competitors achieved even better results than the OEM material. For hot braking, nearly every brake pad except one beat the OEM pad in terms of braking distance. Textar was the supplier with the lowest deviation between the first and tenth braking application, only 0.2m, compared to a competitor with 8.7m which corresponds to two vehicle lengths.

The internationally accepted AMS test was originally developed by automobile magazine, Auto Motor Sport. TMD Friction performed the test within the scope of the benchmark series, to secure and expand the high quality and performance of its products based on the results gained.

Vincenzo Di Caro, Product Engineer of TMD Friction, said: “Today, in a time of high-tech, high-performance cars and increasing traffic, brakes have to generate maximum performance with speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour. Significant testing cycles are also very important to us in order to check and improve our products. The AMS test shows one of many examples of Textar placing great importance on safety as well as removing prejudice by demonstrating that aftermarket brake pads can be even better than OE products when dealing with original spare parts.”

TMD Friction launched its premium brake brand, Textar, to the UK market aftermarket earlier this year. The full range of products cover 99.9% of the UK car parc and includes brake pads, discs and accessories, including brake fluid, available for next day delivery. The launch of Textar passenger car provides the aftermarket with a superior braking product, complementing the long-established Textar brand dedicated to the OE sector.

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DIGRAPH TO OPEN 16 NEW SITES

DIGRAPH TO OPEN 16 NEW SITES

CV factor Digraph is set to open 16 new branches in the next six months as part of a growth strategy described as ‘aggressive’. This will be in addition to several acquisitions of similar businesses and expansion of existing branches.

The move follows significant investment in the company by Euro Car Parts as well as Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia and James Rawson. The expansion could create and create 164 jobs.

The new outlets are in various locations across the UK, stretching from Glasgow to Crawley. At this point it is unconfirmed if the new locations will be from LKQ’s existing portfolio, newly acquired sites, or a mix of the two.

The strategy doesn’t seem to phase the management team.  Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia commented: “Locations, stock and logistics are relatively straightforward – indeed we once opened 12 Euro Car Parts branches in a single day. Our challenge is to find the right people and partners to join us in delivering our vision of market-leading customer service … nationwide. We are building our new branches around the best team players”.

“We are shaking up the industry in other ways too, with major investment in stock ranges, accelerated delivery speeds and added-value programmes, as we continue to build the UK’s most powerful team.”

Branch expansions and upgrades are happening in Gloucester, Northampton, Nuneaton and Stoke. The Northwich branch is relocating to larger premises in Ellesmere Port which will greatly increase stock holding and give improved deliveries to the customer base.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Latest News, News, special newsComments (3)

TRIPLE T RANGE FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

TRIPLE T RANGE FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF CARLUBE

The largest operating expense for a fleet is fuel costs and any savings made within this sector will have a significant impact for the fleet. As a result, fleet managers are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and increase fuel economy. Although it may be overlooked, engine oils are a vital part of any operating vehicle, and can also reduce emissions – even a 1% fuel economy saving can help hugely in a large fleet. Although this sounds like a small percentage, when an average annual fuel bill is reviewed, a 1% saving can make thousands of pounds difference by simply changing the engine oil. A potentially large saving for a fleet of vehicles.

Engine oil manufacturers are constantly looking at ways to improve fuel economy in all vehicles. We know that the thinner the oil, the less drag it puts on the engine, and therefore an increase in fuel economy. These oils are now ready to buy off the shelf for passenger vehicles – for instance grades such as 5W-30 instead of 10W-40. However, within heavy duty applications, one of the main concerns with this method is whether lower viscosity oils will protect the engine to the same extent.

Carlube’s Triple T range for commercial vehicles, meets the needs of Truck, Transport and Tractor engines. This range covers over 99% of commercial vehicle engine applications, allowing extended drain intervals of up to 80,000km and reduced engine wear. Triple T products carry formal approvals from leading commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Mack, Renault, Scania & Volvo.

Carlube Triple T 5W-30 UHPD E6/E9 is rigorously tested to provide premium protection against engine wear and fully protect vital components. In the ACEA E6 engine tests, it has been proven to offer over 40% more engine wear protection than the test limit. The formulation is one of Carlube’s most comprehensive offerings for on and off road vehicles in the marketplace.

Posted in Featured Sidebar, Industry InsightComments (0)

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