U.S-based car parts maker Dana has made a bid for embattled engineering giant GKN.

A report in the FT says that Dana will offer $6bn for the drivetrain division and will consider opening a secondary listing on the London stock exchange.

GKN’s drivetrain business combined with Dana’s existing contracts would give shareholders 47 percent of the world’s biggest drive system supplier with annual sales of $14bn according to the paper.

Jim Kamsickas, Chief Exec of Dana was clear that the combination of the two firm’s strengths in road vehicle engineering was undisputable. “It would be impossible to poke a hole in this industrially” he said.

The new bid is in addition to the hostile offer to shareholders from Melrose Industries, previously reported on. The board of GKN has rejected the bid, but shareholders are currently considering it.

However, the Melrose bit is neither popular with the management, nor some key clients. Tom Williams, CEO of Airbus has been quoted as saying that it would be ‘impossible’ to work with the engineering company under a short-term business model.

“The industry does not lend itself to shorter term financial investment which naturally reduces R&D, budgets and limits vital innovation,” he told the Reuters news agency.

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TPS Bolton branch

Volkswagen Group Genuine Parts supplier TPS has expanded its network with the addition of a new distribution hub in Bolton and Watford.

The move comes as part of the firm’s growth strategy to reach more customers within these respective regions.

The Bolton branch comprises of a 5,400 sq ft facility, housing eight staff, two vans with four drivers delivering within a 25 minute radius of the centre.

Matthew Sheldon, Bolton TPS Centre Manager, said: “The new Bolton centre has made a huge difference as we can now reach a lot more customers than before and that gives us a great opportunity to grow the business. “He added: “In previously servicing the region from our Oldham site we would experience difficulties getting across the M60 but the new location overcomes that obstacle and enables us to provide a much faster and on demand service.”

Meanwhile, the Watford premises contains a  5,000 sq ft warehouse, consisting of 5,000 product lines of stock and 18 employees headed by its TPS Centre Manager Sean Willis.

Speaking of the new site, Willis said: “We have only been open since January but we have already got off to a really strong start and are currently servicing around a 165 strong customer base.

“We have been able to create a good territory, right in the middle of the area we service with a lot of improvements including increased stock holding capacity and better speed of delivery. It’s been a positive start but the proof in the pudding will be in the eating as we look to grow our customer base and take the business forward.”

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Automechanika Birmingham is calling on independent garages across the UK to enter its prestigious ‘Garage of the Year’ award, returning for its second year and will be bigger than ever before.

The competition is open to all garages across the United Kingdom, with entrants explaining the reasons why they should win the coveted award and walk away with £1000. This year, there are six categories for garages to enter, recognising the diversity of UK garage businesses.

The winner of each category will be announced at an evening dinner to be held at The Director’s Club, Aston Villa FC on 5 June, which all category finalists will be invited to attend free of charge. The overall Garage of the Year winner will then be announced at the show on 6 June from these six category winners.

Last year’s first-ever ‘Garage of the Year’ award was won by local garage MotorServ-UK Solihull, which gained the most votes in the battle for top spot, with Philips Garage Ltd from Glasgow narrowly missing out and finishing second overall, and Shropshire-based garage EAC Telford coming third.

This year’s categories are:

• Best Small Garage
• Best Large Garage
• Best Community Initiative award
• ‘Auto-mechanik’ of the Year
• Technology Innovation Award
• Business Innovation Award

Simon Albert, Managing Director of Automechanika Birmingham, said: “The awards this year take on an exciting new development with an evening dinner to name the category winners and celebrate their achievement.

“Last year 75 garages entered – we anticipate that number to significantly increase this year. The finalists will all benefit from a raised business profile, these awards are a great way to reward the hard work and contribution that garages give to the automotive industry.”

The award is being run in partnership with Garage Wire. Interested garages are advised to ‘save the dates’ of 5-6 June and look out for more details in the near future.

The competition is part of a larger offering for garages at the 2018 exhibition. The organisers have introduced a dedicated Garage Quarter offering over 130 suppliers of tools and workshop equipment, services and innovative products as well as a Garage Social area. End users will benefit from a new specialist demo hub which will showcase live action across body repair and vehicle customisation as well as a Business Services Village giving garages free advice on how to run a business more efficiently. The ever popular Workshop Training Hub will return for 2018, bigger and better than before including expert speakers and free training. The Garage Quarter will stay open on Wednesday 6 June until 7pm to allow business owners and technicians to make the most out of their day out of the workshop.

Garage visitors will also benefit from free parking at the NEC and free breakfast upon arrival. Visitors looking to sign up can register for their free ticket here:

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SCMF Croydon

The Parts Alliance has opened a new branch under its SCMF brand in Croydon and another one through its SAS Autoparts division in Newcastle. The move comes as part of the company’s growth strategy to reach more garages and suppliers across the country.

The Croydon store will help to serve garages and suppliers in the South East and Greater London areas within its 4,500 sq ft facility, housing 12 staff, two delivery vans and four motorcycles. William Barrett has been hired as Branch Manager who also possesses over 20 years of experience in the aftermarket.

“We’re delighted to continue our branch expansion to establish a true national footprint with a combination of company store owners and a commitment to members and service partners,” said, Peter Sephton, Parts Alliance CEO. “We welcome all our new team members to our culture of systemised entrepreneurship and look forward to giving our customers increased choice and better service driven by our people, culture and technology platform”.

Meanwhile, the Newcastle SAS Autoparts site is headed up by Dave Watts who spent 15 years at Andrew Page’s Brough Parkfossway depot, which is still operating as normal. He is assisted by six members of staff with plans to recruit more employees in due course.

Sephton added: “The opening of two new locations is an opportunity to expand the group’s presence nationally and aligns with our strategic plan to grow in key markets”. Henry Buckley, President and Uni- Select CEO, concluded: “This continues our commitment to have the best customer coverage in the UK through both owned stores and members”.

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Henry Hope-Frost

Journalist and broadcaster Henry Hope-Frost has died, following a motorcycle accident.

Henry was known for his passion for motorsport and was famous for energetic and humorous commentary.  Famous for covering F1, Henry also covered the Goodwood meetings, BTCC and many others. Since his death on Thursday night, tributes have poured in from scores of people who knew him through his work.

He was well-known and loved by all at Haymarket Media Group, where he spent 22 years, mostly working on Autosport magazine. Since leaving, he remained in touch with the teams and was involved in various projects, including our Awards which he hosted in his own inimitable style.

Henry is survived by his wife Charlotte and their three young children.

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Creditors must be taken care of as well as the business itself

Running a company and holding a directorship involves a number of duties and obligations. The law is very prescriptive about this, and for good reason. In exchange for limited liability and general immunity for company debts, directors must care for the success of the business and also, should insolvency loom, protect the position of creditors.

The authorities take a dim view of those that breach the law. Take the November 2017 case of Kieran Jon Fox, the sole director of Doncaster Auto Parts Limited. He was disqualified from being a company director for three years and six months for trading “to the detriment of HM Revenue and Customs” by failing to pay £94,999 in respect of PAYE, National Insurance and VAT – monies owed at the time of liquidation. HMRC’s analysis of Doncaster’s bank account showed that at least £505,877 was spent from the account between 7 June 2015 and 9 June 2016. Over the same period at least £95,687 was paid to him in respect of loans, wages and dividends and at least £373,537 was paid to other parties. Total liabilities to creditors at liquidation were £358,237.

According to Peter Windatt, an accountant and licensed insolvency practitioner with BRI Business Recovery and
Insolvency, companies must have at least one director who is legally responsible for running the company and making sure its accounts and reports are properly prepared.

Directors must be at least 16 and not disqualified; while most have a director’s title, the law recognises what is termed a shadow director. “An individual in this situation,” says Windatt, “is without title but nevertheless acts as if they are a director. Consequently, the law assigns them the duties and obligations of a formally titled director. Avoiding the term ‘director’ doesn’t remove the duties and liabilities from an individual.”

There are a number of general statutory duties placed on directors by the law which Windatt outlines.

“Firstly,” he says, “directors must act within their powers – that is, comply with the company’s constitution and exercise powers only for the reasons they were given.” Windatt explains that directors must critically act in a way they consider is most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members: “To do this they must have regard to all relevant matters, which the law specifically says involves ‘considering the likely consequences of any decision in the long term; the interests of the company’s employees; the need to foster the company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others, as well as the impact of the company’s operations on the community and the environment; and the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standard business conduct; and the need to act fairly as between members of the company.’”

But there are other obligations to note: Directors must exercise independent judgment, that is, not be swayed by others, and must also exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence. This is key for Windatt – he says directors must be diligent, careful and well informed about the company’s affairs: “If a director has particular knowledge, skill or experience relevant to his function (for instance, they are a qualified accountant and act as a finance director), they will be judged accordingly.”

Another duty to note is the need to avoid conflicts between director’s interests and those of the company. This means not accepting benefits from third parties unless the company authorises acceptance, while declaring any interest in a proposed transaction or arrangement before it is entered into.

A final duty is close to Windatt’s own professional interests. Directors should consider or act in the interests of creditors (particularly if insolvency is a possibility) while maintaining confidentiality of the company’s affairs.


Of course, many businesses are well run and outlive their founders. However, when a business fails “the Insolvency Service will,” says Windatt, “examine the failure and if the director and his actions have been found wanting, can seek the disqualification of the director(s).”

He offers a note of advice to directors: “To protect their position and to comply with the law, directors should ensure their companies maintain and preserve proper accounting records and should submit them to the relevant authorities upon insolvency.” He frequently sees directors investigated by the Insolvency Service with a view to taking action against them, and says: “Any director that’s been disqualified will no longer be able to act as a director of a company; take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership; or receive company’s property. For most, this is likely to have a significant impact on their future earnings, especially as they may be disqualified for up to 15 years.”

There will always be some who consider that they can ignore a disqualification order, but they risk severe punishment. In these circumstances, they face imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine on conviction following indictment; or imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine on summary conviction. And the threat isn’t idle – there have been convictions.

Interestingly, but not unsurprisingly, Windatt’s seen some directors who are disqualified, either under the CDDA or by virtue of being made bankrupt, have their spouse/partner or other close friend/relative “front” a business while they carry on running it from “behind the scenes”: “This frequent scenario unravels when the business fails. At this point the stooge quickly reveals what they were and who the real controller was.”

To conclude, companies can and do fail for any one of a number of reasons, most of which are unfortunate but not deliberate. But where a director has not acted in good faith or in accordance with their duties, they can expect their activities punished and their ability to earn a living curtailed.

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Nick Hood shows us that returning old units isn’t always the core of the business at Autoelectro.

D&V testing rig

This isn’t the first time that we’ve been to Nimalec House in Bradford, home to remanufacturer Autoelectro. However, there’s a special announcement today, so we are keen to hear what it is.

Before that happens, we are given a guided tour of the complex. ‘Complex’ is the correct term for the sprawling mass of buildings, as the original was bought soon after the business was founded in the late 1980s and has been extended several times since. In fact, if you don’t know your way around it is quite hard to keep track of where you are, as the building twists and turns and is set over several levels.

Fortunately, brothers Nicky, Tony and Paul Bhogal are on hand to show us around, as is Sales Manager Nick Hood. There are all the things you might expect in a modern remanufacturing business and warehouse, such as a busy sales office, various well-ordered stockrooms (the facility is ISO14001 accredited) and a large reman workshop. There’s also a few things that you might not: For example, there is a complex photo studio hidden away which is set up so the subject can be pictured through 360 degrees, meaning visitors to the firm’s website can virtually turn an item around on screen – the idea being that users can see if a unit is directly comparable to an item being pulled from a vehicle.

The testing facilities are also impressive. Nicky Bhogal, who is an electrical engineer by profession, worked with Canada- based D&V Electronics to develop testing rigs that could not only test a wide variety of alternators, but just as importantly, were easy to set up for each piece being tested. This means every alternator leaving the building gets properly calibrated and has a full test report along with traceability.

However, the real business of the day is the launch – and that is the news that from March, more than 2,000 references will have their surcharge charges cut.

The 10 bestselling and half of the 100 fastest-moving part numbers within its sales pareto will be surcharge-free, following months of stockpiling core behind the scenes.

Nick Hood explained that ironically, the deal was possible because of the proliferation of cheap imported units in the market. “Most people fitting these new units will still keep the old core and sell it by the basket load to a core dealer, so we are looking at a proliferation of part numbers in broader terms.” he explained, adding that dealers would usually take these crates of mixed core as they came rather than picking through them. The result, perhaps predictably, is an increase in the number of the most common part numbers.

The new no-exchange offering will be sold in the same red Autoelectro boxes as the rest of the range, albeit marked ‘NEX’. An entirely new sub-brand had been considered, but after a lot of what the Bhogals described as ‘soul searching’ they decided to keep it under the same label. “We’re proud of what we do and we don’t want to step away from that” explained Tony Bhogal.

“What we are offering is not a budget product, so it won’t be as cheap as some of the Chinese units” he explained. “But it won’t be much more expensive, which allows us to compete at that end of the market, and with smaller factors that don’t want to deal with core”. On the subject of core, Hood is keen to put one myth to rest. “We are well aware that some people think we make huge money on core, and I can tell you categorically that we don’t” he said, adding that collecting, identifying and processing core is a complex, but vital part of the business and will continue to be so.

There’s more announcements to come as well. From the beginning of April, the remanufactuter will be introducing
a ‘surcharge transparency’ tool, which will assist in securing maximum profits from stock on the shelf, something we’ll be interested to know more about in due course.

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Forge Garage site

A family-run garage in Kidlington faces an ‘uncertain’ future, after the Oxfordshire County Council announced plans to build six new homes over its premises in an area known to be difficult to re-site businesses.

The Forge Garage has been repairing and servicing vehicles in the village for more than six decades and was established by Fred Beckley of whom was a technician for the RAF in Burma during the Second World War. Now in its third generation, Beckley’s son Alun and grandson Mark are at the helm and have said they’ll continue business as normal despite these challenging times.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail newspaper, Alun said: “We’re not sure what is happening, but we will carry on for as long as he we can”. Readers online have also commented on the newspaper’s article expressing their concerns and support for the workshop. One person under the username, ‘Vocman’ said: “They may have difficulty relocating. I understand many industrial estates refuse to let to ‘mucky’ enterprises such as motor mechanics.”

Meanwhile another user called ‘RJ’, wrote: “That’s rough. I had assumed there was a buyout, no idea the garage was on tenterhooks waiting to see what would happen. I hope any development allows them to keep going or find a better site. Best of luck, gentlemen.”

The firm may have a reprieve as the council had planned to use the now-defunct construction firm Carillion.

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Despite what the world at large might have told you, DIY car maintenance isn’t dead. Admittedly, driveway servicing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, nor are people tackling quite the same jobs as was once the case ­– for example, where a reasonably competent DIY’er might once have swapped an alternator or a starter motor with little problem, they would probably avoid fiddling around with a modern stop and start system.

Nonetheless, you don’t have to delve too deeply into any of the hundreds of car club forums, Facebook groups and YouTube channels to realise that people are still delving into dashboards and taking out complicated factory fit stereos, weedling out diagnostic trouble codes with any of the dozens of consumer code readers as well as regular servicing. A point often lost in non-specialist media is that routine servicing is in general more straightforward than it has ever been: modern cars don’t need tappets adjusting, points changing or even spark plugs every 8,000 miles any more.



It’s for this group of car owners that Sparkford-based Haynes publishes workshop manuals. Time consuming and complex to produce,each one is based on a complete stripdown and rebuild of a car with each sub-assembly being meticulously dismantled, recorded and rebuilt. Around ten new titles are published in a year, with the Nissan Note and second-generation SEAT Leon among the latest subjects.

Haynes Publishing is selling property to adapt to the changing publishing environment

Printed manuals have their place, for example you can’t leave a tablet computer showing the same page on a workbench without it going flat and getting greasy. However, a flick through the aforementioned social channels shows that thepractically-mindedalso like to take their information from other sources as the internet is full of ‘how to’ videos that vary enormously in quality.

It’s for this reason that Haynes OnDemand was launched. Short videos are produced while the car is being dismantled and are available to view individually through the Haynes website.

However, for retailers it’s the Online Manual product that will be of more interest. Sold alongside its paper counterparts, customers purchase a voucher to get the same manual as the print version, but also havecolour photography, colour wiring diagrams and searchable text. Also different is the licence: digital manuals are sold with a one-year subscription.

The point here, as explained by CEO J Haynes (named after his father, company founder John Haynes, but always known by the mononym ‘J’) is about giving readers a choice. “We want to get the information into as many drivers’ hands as possible” he explained. The advantages here are obvious. If a visitor wants a book for a car that they are working on that day and the shop doesn’t have it on the shelf, then the digital manual vouchercan make the difference between making the sale or not.

Product explanation

J admits that digital products can be a difficult concept for retailers to get their heads around, and that the Haynes team spent time on the road explaining it to them along with the other USPs of the firm’s consumer products. “Our approach is unique” he said. “We still buy the car, take it into our workshop and take it apart, photograph it and video it. Then, step by step and through real experience we write instructions that show people how to maintain and repair their car. It’s a robust, thorough and tested method” he said, adding that Haynes is, in his opinion, the ‘only company with experience in providing this sort of information for consumers’.

J Haynes, CEO


For professional users, the approach is different. Haynes Pro, like its competitors, is online only. Originally known as Vivid Automotive Data it differs to the firm’s consumer products in that the data comes from OEM sources, rather than hands-on stripdowns. Instead, the product contains a range of part and fitting data that has appeal to parts suppliers and designers of diagnostic equipment as well as to workshops.


Recently the Pro offering got a boost as the company used some of the proceeds of a property sale in the U.S to acquireTonbridge-based data business E3 Technical from Solera Holdings, the company that also owns rival firm Autodata. Besides its user base, there were a number of technical aspects of E3 that must have appealed, including VRM lookup, a technology Haynes would like to use across its platforms.


The firm also acquired OATS, a lubricants database established in 1984 and widely used by industry.


Print is still profitable, but the most recent half year figures show that digital streams now make 46 percent of group revenue, a figure that continues to expand. “Bear in mind that digital revenue is a combination of both professional business and consumer business” said J, explaining that he believes there is room for growth in both sectors. “We certainly believe that it is a method of delivery that is becoming more popular with people who want to act on the information”.

Property sales

A few years ago the company had excess property in the UK, U.S and Australia that was a legacy from the days when the manuals would be printed and stored in-house. The property overseas has been sold, although the original site in Sparkford, Somerset, remains for sale. Moving these properties on is one aspect of turning the business around from the days when each print edition had to be produced in a large run, into one where runs are much smaller and produced offsite. Speaking about the UK business, James Bunkum, COO, said: “The restructuring has further to go, but we are now starting to see the results”.


“From our point of view we’ve seen the UK business return to profit for the first time since 2011, and following the big restructuring exercise that we did in the UK between 2013-14, we are now starting to see the benefits of that coming through”.


J concluded: “For the turnaround, it continues to be a close eye on what product is required and desirable in the market. The economy is robust, but there are challenges out there”. We’ll be interested to see how the company adapts to these challenges in the months and years ahead.

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Event organiser Messe Frankfurt has acquired Forest Exhibitions to create Messe Frankfurt UK. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Sherwood was the licence holder for Automechanika Birmingham, while Messe Frankfurt is the parent company.

Simon Albert, Event Director of Automechanika Birmingham will take the role of Managing Director of the new UK subsidiary replacing Rob Sherwood.

A note from Olivia Brockwell, Operations Executive at Messe Frankfurt UK, to exhibitors at the show read: “There will be no operational, commercial or legal impact on your relationship with Forest Exhibitions”.

“The event team remain unchanged, and we are full steam ahead with this year’s event”.

The show organiser will remain in the same



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