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CTEK EMPLOYEE ARRESTED OVER ALLEGED ‘TRADE SECRETS’ THEFT FROM RIVAL

An employee of battery charger firm CTEK has been arrested by Melbourne police over alleged theft of trade secrets at a recent trade show.

The alleged  incident took place at the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo held in Melbourne earlier this month. In a lawsuit filed in Ohio by the NOCO company, prosecutors allege that the employee stole a notebook containing sales strategy, contacts and other sensitive information.

CCTV footage confirmed the theft and the man was detained by exhibition centre security until local police came and made a formal arrest.

“We want to thank on-site security, members of the AAAA, and Melbourne Police for their efforts in arresting the individual,” said Thomas Smith, Director of Public Relations. “Without their efforts, we would not be able to proceed with additional legal actions. Obviously, we are disappointed with CTEK’s behavior, but it is further evidence of a possible systematic corporate mandate to attempt to curtail NOCO’s growth in the marketplace. We are aggressively pursuing all of our legal rights and will not stop until justice is served.”

In the lawsuit, NOCO is seeking damages and hopes to obtain ‘injunctive protection against the use or dissemination of its trade secrets’ by CTEK.

 

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1,200 JOBS AXED AT MANN+HUMMEL IN GLOBAL RESTRUCTURE

Filtration manufacturer Mann+Hummel has announced today (April 11) that the company is planning a worldwide reduction of ‘about 1,200’ jobs with ‘up to’ 300 jobs lost from German locations.

However, the company has said that direct production will not be affected by the downsizing, which was mooted in a global cost restructuring programme announced in Februrary.

“We will continue to invest heavily in our business segments transportation and Life Science & Environment and see the planned staff reductions as part of a global initiative to short the company and to position long-term competitiveness” explained Werner Dear Lord, President and CEO.

Consultations with staff and unions have begun and the company anticipates a ‘timely completion’ of the restructuring programme.

Mann+Hummel US HQ

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SMMT SLAMS ‘UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE’ BREXIT SITUATION

In a strongly worded statement, SMMT Chief Exec Mike Hawes has said that it is ‘utterly unacceptable’ that no clear vision for Brexit has yet emerged.

“While we’ve avoided a ‘no deal’ Brexit on Friday, it is utterly unacceptable that, more than two years since negotiations started, industry still does not know what the UK’s relationship with the EU will be in the coming weeks and months” he wrote.

BREXIT: RHINO PRODUCTS OPENS EUROPEAN DISTRIBUTION CENTRE

“Uncertainty has already caused serious damage – car plants are on enforced shutdown, investment has been cut and jobs lost. This cannot go on. Government and Parliament must use this extension  purposefully to take ‘no deal’ off the table for good, and guarantee a positive long-term resolution that delivers frictionless trade. If they fail, we face yet another devastating ‘no deal’ precipice on 31 October”.

BREXIT: ARNOLD CLARK GROUP FACTORS TO INCREASE STOCKHOLDING

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £82 billion turnover and employs, directly and indirectly, over a million people.

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

BREAKING: STATEMENT ISSUED BY KLARIUS DIRECTORS

A joint statement has been issued by the Directors of Klarius Ltd relating to charges dating back to 2013 over alleged deliberate mislabelling of type-approved catalysts and DPFs. The statement reads as follows:

“Personally we are surprised that this issue has been raised again after it was investigated thoroughly by the VCA over three years ago after we self-reported these same issues and it will come as no surprise that the people named vigorously deny any activity prohibited by the Companies Act.

READ: KLARIUS DIRECTORS FACE COURT 

 The subsequent report issued by the VCA and the Department for Transport (DfT) in December 2015 resulted in no action being taken, and concurred that our products met all the required performance and safety standards.

At the time we responded quickly and efficiently, working with our customers, to rectify what was essentially an administrative error relating to a small percentage of the catalytic converters manufactured at that time, discovered and exploited particularly by two of our competitors who clearly stand to gain from any adverse publicity.

We continue to be 100% transparent in what we do and again invite anyone to visit and review our quality standards and conformity of production procedures.

READ: CATALYST ROW, KLARIUS DIRECTORS ISSUE STATEMENT 

 We will confidently defend the proceedings that have been brought against us personally.

 This is not an action against Klarius and there is no suggestion of any issue at all with any Klarius product currently available for sale. The company continues to work closely with all appropriate regulatory bodies to drive standards higher.”

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

EUROPE’S TOP NEW AUCTION HOUSE

First published February 2019

Auction house Aston Barclay’s new site in Wakefield has been dubbed ‘Europe’s most advanced auction house’. We felt a claim like that required substantiation, so we paid a visit ahead of its first sale.

Inside, the warehouse is huge and modern, with a painted road running through the center of the main auction hall and glass-walled conference booths along its flank. The 18-acre branch is divided into two sections: office space and auction space. The former is light and airy, providing a pleasant workplace for the 150 employees – finance teams, auctioneers, yard staff and more – who will put a steady stream of 35,000 cars every year through the auction process.

Also joining the team at the Wakefield site will be newly-acquired Leeds-based auction house Independent Motor Auctions (IMA) as well as the 30-strong team of The Car Buying Group, which Aston Barclay acquired in October last year. Over on the auction side, Aston Barclay are choosing to forgo the typical burger-van and pints-of-tea of old auction sites, instead installing a restaurant. More shocking still, there’s even an on-site gym and showers, for those who might want to spend lots of time at the center – professional traders, for example. With 15 auctions planned per month, this could certainly be the case.

The only downside to this modern minimalist design is that it looks very empty without any cars in it, which sadly was the case on the day of the media event. Still, it’s easy to imagine how impressive it will look when full; particularly the massive storage warehouse which adjoins the auction hall and boasts enough room for around 200 vehicles – a huge amount for a totally indoor space. There will be plenty of variety, too: “From bangers to Bugattis, all the way though,” quipped Aston Barclay CEO Neil Hodson. Commercial vehicles will be handled by the firm’s Leeds site – which was formerly their Northern powerhouse. “Our old premises leads itself to being a commercial center so I think that we’ll make that a dedicated center,” explained Hodson. “If we’ve got some vans, they’re better to go to the commercial center. They get more money; that’s where the commercial buyers go.” 

Digital future

In addition to the shiny new center, Aston Barclay have also been developing Cascade – a four-piece software suite to enable online auctioneering. The four products: e-Valuate, e-Hub, e-Xchange and e-Live are designed to take dealers and leasing vendors through the whole auction process from appraisal to sale entirely online. e-Live even offers a live-streamed auctioneer who will take users through a sequential bidding auction to give the sale an authentic feel. In addition to the rollout of the new digital suite, Hodson was very open to the idea of acquiring even more digital partners in the future. “I’d be looking around that digital space. If we could make some other acquisitions, I will. We’ve got a great investor in [private equity firm] Rutland Partners, we’ve got the cash, and that puts us in a great place. So if we can buy the right things to accelerate our journey, I definitely will.”

Growth

In short, it’s a good start to the year for Aston Barclay. The acquisitions and opening of the new site suggest that the wholesale used car market is in good health; a fact also highlighted in the National Association of Motor Auctions’ ‘encouraging’ December industry report late last year. Does this also reflect the health of the aftermarket? Hodson thinks so: “I think you know if that vehicle market’s turning and consumers are buying, then it has to affect the aftermarket. Selling all those cars at all those different ages – I think it’s good for the aftermarket because that keeps putting new parts and supply in there.”

Posted in Out and About with CATComments (0)

TRICO ACQUIRES CHAMPION WIPERS

Wiper blade manufacturer Trico has acquired the global  Federal-Mogul Motorparts wiper and wiper systems business.

READ: TENNECO ACQUIRES FEDERAL MOGUL

Adam Richards, European MD, Trico said: “This represents a fantastic and hugely exciting strategic opportunity to accelerate technology capabilities, expand global wiper manufacturing and distribution, and further strengthen our wiper blade and wiper system capabilities.

“Both the Champion and Trico brand remain available to the aftermarket – at the moment it’s “business as usual” with FM distribution centres §continuing to supply Champion products, however we are working hard on integration plans for our existing UK facility and will be in touch with all customers with further information soon.”

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FUEL CARDS – SHOULD YOU GET ONE?

When running a business, the issue of fuelling company vehicles is probably not the first thing on one’s mind. Indeed it’s probably more comfortable to try not to think about it, seeing as it’s another overhead that the company could do without. On top of that, keeping track of receipts for accounts purposes or to reimburse staff creates an administrative headache. This is where fuel cards come in. Or rather, came in. Fuel cards have been around for decades, and aim to simplify the process of keeping a company vehicle fleet topped up with fuel by consolidating invoices.

A fuel card is essentially a credit card which is restricted to the purchase of petrol or diesel, plus some vehicle accessories depending on the type of card owned. The fuel card company then pays for a fill-up transaction, and sends the invoice to the company that the fuel card is registered with. These invoices tend to be weekly, and mean that hours once spent sifting through hundreds of receipts to reclaim VAT can be used more productively.

Many fleet operators now use fuel cards. But for those who don’t, it’s a question of knowing when to start.

Types

There are many different types of fuel cards available to suit the type of business one might be running, from SMEs to large, nationwide fleets. BP, for example, offers its BP Plus card or fleets who need maximum coverage with a cross-acceptance partner network including Texaco, Gulf and Esso. Alternatively, there is the BP Plus Bunker specifically for bus and truck fleets who use key motorway and A-road routes.

Generally, more and more companies are signing up, as Jo McDonnell, UK Fuel Card Manager of BP, explains. “We have definitely seen overall growth in the amount of businesses recognising the ways in which fuel cards can support them, by saving them time and costs. There has also been a rise in the number of SMEs using fuel cards as it’s of high priority that their fleet management is efficient and easy to manage, as well as track, and fuel cards along with the BPme app make the process much simpler.”

One such fleet operator is Richard Shortis. Though the Shortis Group, which owns such brands as Wilco and Fast Fit, has outgrown SME territory, Shortis has made use of fuel cards for around 15 years, and thinks that a small fleet size shouldn’t be a factor in deciding when to adopt fuel card use. “Any organisation which has just one vehicle and they have a driver that has to go and put the fuel in it, it’s much easier to give them a card rather than giving them money,” he said. “We used to have our own diesel tanks and have them on site and fill up our vans on site with diesel. But when the savings disappeared from having your own tank, it became more convenient just to use a petrol station. So it wasn’t dependent on the size of the vehicle fleet, it’s the fact that we used to have our own tank and in the old days, years ago, you used to get quite a good saving if you bought diesel in bulk. But that [saving] got less and less, so that’s why we moved to the fuel cards.”

Downsides

Fuel cards aren’t without their faults. Just like any other payment card, there is a risk of fraud associated with their use, despite efforts to make the platform as secure as possible. For instance, if a fuel card is stolen or lost, then what’s to stop anyone picking it up and purchasing fuel on a company tab? For one thing, notifying a fuel card provider of a lost card as soon as possible is a crucial step. But there is further security on top of this.

McDonnell explains that as well as the standard practice of setting a PIN number for card purchases, BP keeps an ‘online authorisation process’ of all fuel transactions, as well as “special alerts that monitor card use, keeping track of everything including location, site type, day and time, products bought, and litres of fuel purchase – giving fuel managers complete transparency.”

Additionally, cards can be linked to certain vehicles or drivers, further enhancing security and enabling fleet managers to keep a more detailed record of spending and mileage. “Firstly, when the driver purchases fuel, the registration and milage are requested at the point of purchase and captured as part of the transaction,” says McDonnell. “Secondly, if a driver pays using BPme, they must enter their vehicle registration and mileage before activating the pump, meaning more accurate data as they capture this whilst in front of their odometer.” This linking of fuel cards seems to be a strong security method employed by most fuel card providers. Indeed, when asked if he had ever had a security problem with the fuelling of his fleet, Shortis replied: “Not really. Most of the fuel cards are assigned to a vehicle registration. The only downside is, it depends if the petrol station doesn’t do their bit with the check on the vehicle. But we haven’t had any issues through misuse of fuel cards.”

Another concern is with the providers themselves. There is a concern among fuel card users that prices can rise if they don’t pay attention, as Shortis highlights: “The only downside is that some of the fuel card providers try to get one over on you – either alter their terms or say ‘oh, by the way we’re putting in a charge now so if you want to use a card it’s gonna be x number of pounds per use’ or whatever,” he said. This certainly isn’t exclusive to fuel card providers though, and many readers can probably tell of similar stories with their electricity, internet or phone bill provider, for instance. This is a nuisance, to be sure, but the way of tackling the situation is the same: negotiate the price down, or threaten to switch providers. “We have switched providers and they’ve come back pretty quickly saying ‘oh, we didn’t actually put that in!’” says Shortis. “Everything’s up for negotiation, or sometimes they don’t negotiate until after you’ve switched.” It’s worth keeping that in mind if ever you notice mysterious charges on your invoice. Plus, regularly keeping in touch with your provider to negotiate a better deal might be a good idea as well.

Looking forward

It’s a system that seems to work just fine, so what could possibly change? Well, even the fuel card industry is keeping on top of environmental trends. “For example, as EV becomes an increasingly relevant topic for both individual drivers and fleets, fuel cards will adapt to meet this need,” says McDonnell. “For example, BP has invested in Chargemaster, which will soon allow BP Fuel Card users to manage their fleet through one simple solution even if they shift to electric vehicles, including access to Polar, the largest network of electric vehicle charging points in the UK.”

Food for thought, whether you operate a one-van fleet or dozens of electric minivans.

Posted in Blogs, UncategorisedComments (0)

EMPLOYMENT LAWS ARE CHANGING – ARE YOU?

By Tina Chander – partner and head of the Employment team at leading Midlands law firm, Wright Hassall

Tina Chander

Since 2010, the UK has experienced lower unemployment rates across every region, underpinned by a strong and innovative labour market that has seized on the opportunities offered by new technologies, emerging business models and changing ways of working. 

Existing employment law and policy framework has found a balance between flexibility and worker protections, placing Britain in a strong position to benefit from the new industrial revolution and the opportunities it will bring.

Out with the old, in with the new

The government unveiled its Good Work Plan in December 2018 as a direct and carefully detailed strategy to strengthen worker’s rights and change employment laws.

Labelled as ‘the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years’, the plan builds on the Taylor Review recommendations of February 2018 and outlines an intention to improve conditions for agency, zero-hour and other atypical workers.

Within this plan, the government commits to a wide range of policy and legislative changes, clarifying the relationship between employers and workers, while ensuring the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose.

As working becomes more flexible and varied, it is imperative that the key protections relied on by workers are not negatively impacted, and this Good Work Plan is designed to reinforce existing rights.

Requesting stable contracts

One of the main issues addressed is ‘one-sided flexibility’, which recognises some businesses have transferred too much business risk to the individual, affecting their financial security and personal well-being.

New legislation will give workers the right to request a more stable contract, allowing them to benefit from flexible working, without the financial uncertainty.

Those happy to work varied hours each week can do so, but others will be allowed to request a fixed working pattern after 26 weeks of service, giving workers greater control over their own lives.

For those working zero-hour contracts, this change will allow them to request a contract that guarantees a minimum number of weekly hours, which is crucial when looking to secure a mortgage.

Repealing Swedish derogation

The Good Work Plan also addresses Swedish derogation, which currently allows agency workers to exchange their right to be paid equally to permanent counterparts in return for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments.

Although the original intentions of Swedish derogation were to offer reassurance that individuals would still earn during quieter periods, some employers have been using this opt-out to reduce the size of their pay bill.

Nowadays it is very unusual for agency workers to have gaps between their assignments, and in some cases, employers have devised schemes to keep their exposure to a minimum contrary to the requirements originally outlined.

The government aims to repeal Swedish derogation with new legislation, banning the use of this type of contract to withhold equal pay rights. Instead, long-term agency workers will receive equal wages to those of permanent employees.

Tougher enforcement measures

In order to create a level playing field between businesses, there needs to be effective enforcement.

The government plans to extend state enforcement for vulnerable workers, introducing tough financial penalties and an approach that already applies to underpayment of the National Minimum Wage.

This involves increasing enforcement protections for agency workers where they have pay withheld or unclear deductions made, while new legislation will increase the maximum penalty imposed during employment tribunals on the grounds of aggravated breach.

Ongoing employment developments

While the Good Work Plan looks set to bring about some wholesale changes to employment law and workers’ rights, there are other broader developments on the horizon.

On April 6, 2019, new legislation under the Employment Rights Act 1996 is due to come into force, introducing a right for all workers to be provided with an itemised pay statement and the ability to enforce this right at an employment tribunal.

On the same day, other legislation will require itemised payslips to contain the number of hours paid for where a worker is payed hourly.

Preparing for the future

With the arrival of the Good Work Plan and ongoing consultation regarding employment laws and legislation, 2019 will be a crucial year for businesses and workers alike.

It’s important that organisations take the time to review the changes and understand the requirements outlined in the new legislation, as non-compliance could cost organisations financially and damage their reputation.

If you’re unsure about the Good Work Plan and wider developments, it is important to consult a legal team with significant experience of employment law and the imminent changes.

Posted in CAT FeaturesComments (0)

EXCEL AUTOMOTIVE GROUP ACQUIRED BY AUTOELECTRO BOSS

Component supplier Excel Automotive Group (EAG) has been acquired by Sancorp Ltd, a holdings company owned and operated by Autoelectro MD Tony Bhogal in partnership with his son Harry.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The company, originally known as Excel Components started in 2003 providing aftermarket steering and suspension components. The company changed hands in 2015 and was sold again in 2017 to TVS Ltd, the parent company of CV supplier Universal Components Ltd.

READ: JUST BOOTS ACQUIRED BY CONTINENTAL DIRECT

The most recent sale will see the company relocate to a new site in Leeds in due course. The Bhogals have appointed former EAG Sales Director Adrian Lamb to the role of Managing Director while Harry Bhogal will handle the day-to-day operations.

READ: AUTOELECTRO AND CAAR SIGN DEAL

Tony Bhogal

“I am delighted to be at the forefront of this new chapter in EAG’s history,” said Lamb. Thanking existing customers for their patience and support he added: “I believe the company has unfinished business, and while the industry has evolved significantly over the years, with the support of Tony and Harry, I am confident we can return the brand to its former glory – we’ll certainly give it a go.”

 

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PROMO: OE LIGHT FOR LONGER

PROMOTIONAL ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF OSRAM

 

Why Quality Matters: Driving Customer Loyalty For Garage Owners With OSRAM OE Halogen and Xenon Automotive Bulbs

 

Light for Longer

 

Fit OSRAM original equipment for complete customer satisfaction

 

You know the problem:

You supplied and fitted non-OE bulbs to your customer’s car and not long afterwards, they are back complaining that the bulbs have dimmed or are no longer working. This is bad for your customer and bad for your garage.

 

Imagine a different scenario.

You recommend OSRAM OE Halogen or Xenon bulbs, because they are safer, brighter and last longer. Your customer recognises your desire to offer excellent products and customer service and recommends your garage to their friends on social media or by word of mouth. Nice!

 

Specifying OSRAM OE Halogen and Xenon bulbs will help to make your customers happy, driving customer loyalty and increasing customer satisfaction. Why? Here are the facts.

Unlike non-OE bulbs, with OSRAM Original Equipment quality you and your customers can be confident that you do not need to worry about:

The lifetime of the bulb

Lumen maintenance

Vibration resistance

 

What’s more, OSRAM Original Equipment conforms to higher overall product standards than required by law, so you can avoid the hassle of filling out warranty claims.

OSRAM Original equipment

For garage owners, OSRAM Original Equipment quality can mean:

Longer life

Few failures

Satisfied customers

Allow your customers to drive away with OSRAM Halogen and Xenon, and they will be joining the many car drivers in the UK that already have OSRAM bulbs fitted from the factory at point of manufacturing.

Sign up now to become an OSRAM installer and find out more about the benefits of buying and fitting OSRAM Original Equipment:

 

For more information visit:

 

www.osraminstaller.co.uk

 

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