AUTOSUPPLIES GROUP TO ACQUIRE LEISUREWAYS UK

AUTOSUPPLIES GROUP TO ACQUIRE LEISUREWAYS UK

Chesterfield-based factor group Autosupplies has entered into an agreement to acquire Rotherham-based retailer Leisureways UK Ltd.

Leisureways Ltd is a long established family business, serving customers in Rotherham for more than 60 years.

Work has already begun to integrate Leisureways into the Autosupplies Group of Companies, with the deal expected to complete at the start of October.

Autosupplies Group MD, David Clarke, said: “The acquisition of Leisureways fits strategically into our ongoing expansion plans and work has already begun with staff, customers and suppliers to ensure a seamless integration into the group. Leisureways is a business with a proud history – mirroring that of Autosupplies and Butlers – and we look forward to continuing its tradition of exceptional customer service as part of the Autosupplies Group.

Retailer to change hands after 60 years

 

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BCA AGREES DEAL WITH INTERNET START-UP

Online used car start-up Cazoo has announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with auction house BCA for a dedicated vehicle

Alex Chesterman, Cazoo

preparation site in Corby, Northamptonshire.

The Corby site will be extensively refurbished and upgraded later this year to create a market-leading preparation, processing and imaging facility with the capacity to refurbish upwards of 50,000 cars per year and store over 6,000 cars.

This agreement follows Cazoo signing a commercial partnership with BCA last month covering logistics and refurbishment. Cazoo secured £30 million of funding at the end of last year, making it one of Europe’s best-funded start-ups.

Alex Chesterman, Founder of Cazoo said: “BCA are the leading provider of remarketing and automotive services in the UK and we look forward to working closely with them as we develop our business. Having a dedicated preparation site will allow us to achieve the highest standards and deliver the UK’s best used car buying experience.”

Avril Palmer-Baunack, Executive Chairman, BCA commented, “We are delighted to have entered a long-term agreement with Cazoo to develop a state-of-the-art preparation centre in Corby. We look forward to working with this exciting and innovative automotive start-up and supporting their business needs with our expertise.”

 

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SCHAEFFLER TO SELL PLANT IN MBO

SCHAEFFLER TO SELL PLANT IN MBO

Management at Shaeffler’s Hamm plant have signed an agreement with the company to take over the facility, which mainly produces friction linings for dry clutch plates.

Negotiations completed on Friday, and the newco is effective as of this morning (Monday July 1)

The deal, for which terms have not been disclosed and is not subject to regulatory approval, will safeguard 110 jobs at the plant. The resulting new company will be called Inno Friction GmbH.

READ: NEW DIVISION AND DATA FIRM FOR SCHAEFFLER

The manager of the Hamm plant and future managing director of the new company, Dr. Christian Spandern, commented: “My fellow directors – Dr. Vera Rührup, Frank Steinhauer and Stefan Löhr – and I are pleased at this opportunity to lead the company in Hamm into a new phase of development that will serve our employees, customers and suppliers well. The new company will continue its business relationships unchanged and will continue to work closely with the Schaeffler Group. At the same time, we see further potential to grow the Hamm location, particularly its industrial business.”

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OBITUARY: KEVIN SHORTIS 1939-2019

Accessory shop owner and entrepreneur Kevin Shortis has died following a short illness.

While he was involved in a number of businesses, Shortis will be best remembered by the aftermarket for his chain of accessory shops, latterly called Wilco Motosave.

Kevin Shortis 1939-2019

Shortis started work in the late 1950s as a teenager. Originally he worked for parts distributor Vic Moore Car Spares in Lancashire. “Back then there were no accessory shops. If you wanted something, you went to a garage. But they had to sell you the parts at the rate the manufacturer dictated” he told CAT in a 2010 interview.

Sensing a gap in the market, Shortis set up a shop aimed at DIY motorists. In an age where a new generation of first-time car owners liked to maintain and fit accessories to their vehicles, the business did well and before long several more branches were opened across East Anglia.  

Such success came to the attention of aftermarket magnate Quinton Hazell, who bought Shortis out. Shortis took a place on Hazell’s board, but the relationship was short lived due to the sale of QH to Burmah and in the mid 1970s he took the opportunity to buy several of his stores back.

Steady growth occurred in the decades that followed, with the acquisition of Leeds-based Motosave in 2004 more than doubling the size of the network.

In 2010 Shortis won the Lifetime Achievement trophy at the CAT Awards. However he never retired and continued to work in the business with his son Richard.

Kevin Shortis signed off the last email he sent to us at CAT with the words: “I never get bored, but since I started in the trade I reckon I’ve seen everything!”

He will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

 

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PROFITS SLUMP AT HALFORDS FOLLOWING MILD WINTER

PROFITS SLUMP AT HALFORDS FOLLOWING MILD WINTER

Halfords PLC, the company behind the retail chain and auto centres as well as specialist cycle shops Treadz and Cycle Republic, has announced its results for the year ending in March 2019.

Underlying profit before tax was down £12.8m on last year to £58.8m.

Halfords

Profits down at Halfords following a mild winter

Chairman Keith Williams noted a ‘disappointing fall in profit vs expectations’ which he put down to a mix of Brexit uncertainty and a mild winter. CEO Graham Stapleton expanded that the drop was also due to ‘weakened consumer confidence’ in the run up to Christmas, retail cost inflation as well as investment in ‘strategic opportunities’, such as the opening of a Boardman Performance Centre. The report also noted that operating costs both in retail and in the auto centres had increased, further reducing profitability.

However, it wasn’t all bad headlines for the retailer. Like-for-like cycle sales grew modestly, net debt was reduced by £6m to £81.8m and total Autocentres revenues were up £2.6 percent. Battery, bulb and blade fitting services at the retail outlets were also showing positive growth.

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DEALER GROUP COMPLAINS ABOUT ‘AGGRESSIVE PRICING” OF TRADE CLUBS

DEALER GROUP COMPLAINS ABOUT ‘AGGRESSIVE PRICING” OF TRADE CLUBS

A dealer group has noted the ‘aggressive pricing’ of VM parts chains makes it ‘less attractive’ for franchised dealers to sell parts for older models.

In a Group Accounts Statement filed at Companies House by John Grose, Director Ian Twinley noted that: ‘Both Ford and PSA continue to restructure their parts distribution models which is making it less attractive for the franchised dealer and therefore a sector that we will reduce our activity. In the retail sector we are all seeing a huge transformation in small package distribution driven by the digital revolution, which is likely to continue for some while yet and have further impact on OEM parts distribution’.

 

VM initiatives such as PSA’s Euro Repar make spares ‘less attractive’ to franchises

Both Ford and the PSA brands are represented by John Grose, and both have expanded their trade club-style offerings in order to tempt independent garages to buy parts directly from them rather than from the all-makes factor chains. PSA has been particularly aggressive with the roll-out of its Auto Repar offering that includes several different tiers of parts quality. Ford has also tried a number of initiatives, including the Quick Lane soft franchise garage model.

 

The Group Accounts Statement also noted that John Grose has taken a number of actions to prepare for a worst-case no deal Brexit, which included stockpiling common service and repair part numbers as well as securing ‘additional headroom in funding’ to meet any volatility in cash flow.

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MAN ARRESTED IN FAKE SPARK PLUGS RAID

MAN ARRESTED IN FAKE SPARK PLUGS RAID

Trading Standards in East Sussex has uncovered a haul of fake spark plugs, valued at nearly £40,000

Istvan Lorincz of Hailsham was found to be in possession of bags of the engine components, along with sophisticated label making equipment and cartons. He had been passing off the fakes as authentic parts on internet auction sites.

Fake plugs found in raid (Photo: East Sussex Trading Standards)

Hove Crown Court found him guilty of 25 breaches of the trademarks act and handed down a four-month prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months.  

Cllr Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council told local paper, The Eastbourne Herald: “This unscrupulous individual was caught with counterfeit motor parts with a very high value”.

“He was knowingly selling these items online to unsuspecting consumers and businesses around the country, to the detriment not just of the buyers, but of the manufacturers whose products he claimed to be offering and to genuine traders trying to make an honest living”

Rumours of fake spark plugs in the market have been floating about for a while.

 

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NEW BROOM SWEEPS THROUGH KLARIUS

NEW BROOM SWEEPS THROUGH KLARIUS

 

“We’d like to invite any and all of your readers to see the plant and we can show them exactly what we do and what our processes are,” Klarius’ Business Development Manager Paul Hannah said to us after we had concluded our tour of the Cheadle production site.

Klarius is on a PR drive, and there is a reason why. The Directors are facing a charge relating to selling catalysts and DPFs with incorrect type approval numbers. Whether or not this was done knowingly is up to a court to decide when the case comes to trial later in the year, but right now, new MD Mark Brickhill has the task of showing us exactly what the company produces today.

In fact, it has four distinct areas of business, namely KMT Machine Tools, Emissco solvent manufacturing, AutoLogistiks distribution and the design and production of Klarius branded products.

On our visit we were shown around by Brickhill, someone entirely new to the company and as we discovered, a man whose enthusiasm for improving processes and the corporate culture in British manufacturing was infectious.

Brickhill, who previously held senior roles at Goodyear and Turtle Wax, was keen to emphasize that his role was to put in place processes that mean happy staff and satisfied customers. “Customer, team, execution have always made for a successful business. Once you compromise on these things, you are going to trip over,” he said, adding that one of the first things to do on joining the company was to put together a plan for the next three to five years, during which he plans to take the company to a £50m turnover with a 10 percent EBIT margin, a target he describes as ‘not an outrageous number, but is broadly double the turnover and double the profitability that we had in 2017’.

To achieve this, Brickhill reviewed every process across the business and used feedback from customers and staff on the areas to improve. As a small example, boards found around factories that use the Kaizen method have for years had illustrations of good vs bad practice, but Brickhill has redesigned the boards on the production floor so they show things that merit a ‘yellow card’ or a ‘red card’ metaphor. It goes further than rugby metaphors around the plant though. “You are never going to delight your customer if you don’t have a fantastic team of people focussed on that as a key objective,” he yelled, over the noise of exhaust pipe production. “I think the most important thing a leader can do istosetoutaclearsetof directions that everyone can understand. There are two parts to it. One is the business plan and the other is the culture of the company,” he furthered.

UNCONVENTIONAL

Throughout his career, Brickhill has been keen to look at problems in an unconventional light. For example, when he was appointed European MD at Goodyear one of the issues he was faced with was the issue of lacklustre sales of heavy truck tyres. Rather than simply telling his reps to go out and try harder, he developed a new marketing campaign entirely. “We called it ‘free tyres’ because the better rolling resistance of our product meant that over the life of the tyre, it would more than pay for itself,” he said. The strategy worked and profitability increased.

Walking through the site, the KMT production area was busy making some sort of enormous jig, similar in appearance to one of those car rollers used for DIY car restoration, but painted bright yellow and about 60 feet in length, apparently used in the production of railway carriages. This is the heaviest of heavy engineering and the production ‘line’ such as it is can be configured to make any number of heavy tools. Other than heavy rail, clients include manufacturers of earthmoving equipment and ship builders.

Moving through the plant, the R&D department is housed in another building, and an area that the management are particularly keen to show us. On our visit, a Skoda Octavia was on the ramp having a new OE exhaust system tested, presumably to benchmark its performance against the aftermarket unit in development. Brickhill was keen to stress that the VCA inspector was in ‘almost every week’ and that all new to range exhaust systems are type approved as is required in most of continental Europe. The CAD team were busy drawing up the new reference so it can be uploaded to the electronic catalogues.

The company also has use of a piece of private road that winds around an adjacent area of farmland. While it might be an overstatement to call it a ‘test track’ it is nonetheless a useful way of trying new products for fit and rattles etc.

STANDARDS

After the briefest sight of the sun, it was into the main factory where exhaust systems are produced. A substantial investment has been made over the past eighteen months in hardware for rolling and bending steel tube, and the changes needed around the factory to accommodate new machinery gave Brickhill the opportunity to implement various changes to the factory and to the production method after scrutinizing every aspect of a time and motion study. “If you don’t aspire to an exceptionally high standard, you might have something that is functional, but is it excellent and great? That’s the challenge” he said. The factory, in common with other comparable businesses, is now able to make product in extremely small batch sizes if necessary, meaning that on some occasions products can be picked for delivery

New MD Mark Brickhill

within hours of being fabricated.

From a logistics point of view, exhausts are the poster child of ‘ugly’. Spindly, pokey, easily crushable with lots of loose parts, the products are difficult to store and transport. To this end, the firm established its own delivery company, AutoLogistiks, a few years back to get the products where they need to be overnight, and in the condition they are supposed to be in. On our visit, transport managers were busy loading various vehicles with stock. We didn’t want to disturb them, so we moved to the final building of the complex, Emissco.

While we were aware that the company’s Emissco arm produced a number of chemical products, such as brake cleaner and maintenance spray, we didn’t realise that they are developed and canned on site. “It’s massively exciting,” said Brickhall as we looked around the canning plant. Setting up an

installation such as this requires the line to run for as many hours of the day as possible to get ROI, so it wasn’t surprising to see other brands’ products being produced under contract. However there is, as Brickhill enthusiastically told us, ‘plenty of scope for expansion’, so talks with more clients are ongoing.

While simply mentioning the name of this company makes some in the industry bristle, there is no doubt that thanks to the work of Mark Brickhill and the team, the company as we see it in front of us today is committed to producing decent, British engineered products. But there is no reason why you should take the word of a magazine writer with little technical knowledge. We’d suggest the cynical take up Paul Hannah’s offer of a plant tour and then you can make up your own mind.

 

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HOSTED GARAGE PROGRAMME SET FOR SUCCESS

PROMOTIONAL ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM

Motor factors take lead in bringing garages to the event

Motor factors that bring their garage customers to Automechanika Birmingham 2019 will benefit from an exclusive VIP area, enjoy fast track access into the event and support with their travel arrangements.

Automechanika Birmingham 2019 is designed to bring the entire automotive industry together and with the Hosted Garage Programme, the event is doing that literally by assisting motor factors with bringing their customers to the event.

All motor factors have to do is simply invite, register and bring five or more garage customers to the event to receive free parking and free breakfast too.

The Hosted Garage programme is a great opportunity for motor factors to introduce garages and technicians to their supplier base. What’s more, garages that take up the offer of attending with their motor factor will visit The Big UK Garage Event, where they will access hundreds of suppliers and brands from across the industry covering areas such as accessories, components, tools and garage equipment. There will also be CPD accredited training taking place and demos from the industry’s top speakers including Frank Massey, Andy Crook and James Dillon, the Training & Skills Village and the returning Workshop Training Hub.

Exhibitors will also be providing a raft of exclusive show offers and giveaways for garages at this year’s event.

One motor factor bringing garages to the Automechanika Birmingham is Midwest Motor Factors of Walsall. Group Factor manager, Craig McCracken, said: “This is a fantastic idea and really ties in everybody in the automotive industry. Much of the event’s content is geared towards independent garages and it’s a fantastic opportunity for us as their local motor factor to bring them to an event that will ultimately benefit their business.

This was echoed by Autosupplies managing director, David Clarke, who said: “Each year we bring garages to the event and this year we’ve been inundated with requests to join our team at the event. As a motor factor, we have a responsibility to support our suppliers exhibiting at the event and bring garages to them. Such dialogue and feedback helps all in the supply chain and so we’re delighted to be bringing more garages than ever before to Automechanika Birmingham as part of the Hosted Garage Programme.”

There is still time for motor factors to sign up to the Hosted Garage Programme and they can do so by emailing info@automechanika-birmingham.com

Major aftermarket names committed to the 2019 event include: Schaeffler, ZF, DENSO, MAHLE Aftermarket, Delphi Technologies, Valeo, Bosch, Hella, Bilstein Group, MANN + HUMMEL, NGK, Yuasa, Apec Braking Ltd, BM Catalysts, Draper Tools, GROUPAUTO, Launch Tech UK, Liqui Moly, MAM Software, Marathon Warehouse Distribution, Morris Lubricants, OESSA, Texa UK and Total UK.

Registration is now open and visitors can now book their free ticket here: https://automechanika-birmingham-2019.reg.buzz

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‘EXTENDED VEHICLE’ CONCEPT CAUSING AFTERMARKET CONCERN

‘EXTENDED VEHICLE’ CONCEPT CAUSING AFTERMARKET CONCERN

By Greg Whitaker

A new concept in the evolution of connected cars has been proposed by VMs, but many in the aftermarket are not happy.

Backers say that the idea of the ‘Extended Vehicle’ concept will lead to greater protection from hacking and fewer risks from on-vehicle software updates etc. as data will be stored on centralised servers and any access to data will be via these computers, rather than on the car itself.

A website to promote the concept, cardatafacts.eu, has been set up by ACEA, the body that represents VMs in Europe. The site argues that while the servers will be run by the VMs, third parties such as diagnostic tool companies are welcome to establish ‘neutral’ data centres, not operated or funded directly by the manufacturers. However, detractors of the concept say that it amounts to a ‘major threat to aftermarket competition’ as all of the data generated by a vehicle will be in the hands of the VMs at least to begin with, and the third party servers may be a bit like the ‘pass-through’ diagnostics from a few years ago, which used data pulled directly from VMs servers on third party diagnostic tools. Technicians complained that the data available was either late or incomplete compared with the dealer tool.

A recent study showed that the potential for financial loss for independent repairers, and extra costs for the motorist, could be huge if the Extended Vehicle concept is enacted in Europe and the UK. Both the VMs and independents, via the medium of trade bodies, are going head-to-head over the issue, and a test server is being set up to illustrate to the European Commision of the sort of problems that are likely to arise from it.

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