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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.

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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.

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Carlube Triple T – Advantages to Fuel Economy

 

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 has developed a new range called Triple T for commercial vehicles to meet 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 has been 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.

With the addition of Triple T to the already comprehensive range of Carlube passenger car lubricants, Carlube now has one of the most comprehensive offerings for on and off road vehicles in the marketplace.

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GKN FIGHTS ‘OPPORTUNISTIC’ HOSTILE TAKEOVER BID

UK engineering company GKN is under threat from a hostile takeover from investment house Melrose Industries.  

Melrose  has made an unsolicited offer to shareholders to  acquire the entire issued share capital of GKN for 1.49 new Melrose shares and 81 pence in cash per share.

Melrose is known for turning engineering companies around and under the strapline ‘buy, sell, improve, sell’ it attempts to add value to the brands it acquires before selling them on, in a similar vein to a private equity. It’s website states it “finances acquisitions using a low level of leverage, improves the businesses by a mixture of investment and changed management focus, sells them and returns the proceeds to shareholders”.

However, the management of GKN do not want to sell to Melrose. In a letter to shareholders GKN Chairman Mike Turner blasts the approach as ‘entirely opportunistic’ and ‘low price and high risk’ before barbing: “Your board believes that Melrose is more focused on financial engineering than real engineering”.

“GKN is six times the size of Melrose’s largest acquisition and your Board believes that Melrose’s management team lacks relevant experience at Board level in several critical areas” wrote Turner, adding that he doen’t believe that Melrose has the necessary relationships with VMs and aircraft makers to make a success of the business. “Cars and aircraft are researched, designed, produced and serviced over several decades – your Board believes that a short term, private equity-style strategy is not the right way to provide sustained shareholder value in our sectors” he said.

GKN said in an earlier letter to shareholders that it would sell non-core assets and return £2.5bn to shareholders in response to the offer. 

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INDUCTION HEAT VS THE OXY-ACETYLENE METHOD

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF INDUCTION INNOVATIONS

The use of induction heating in the workshop is on the rise and we asked Induction Innovations Inc., manufacturer of the Mini-Ductor® Venom™ handheld induction heating tool, to compare the advantages of using induction heat vs the traditional approach of using an oxy-acetylene torch for removing problem parts.

There are some key advantages of using induction heat, outlined below. But first, here’s some key questions to ask yourself:

o Have you, or a colleague, ever caused damage with a torch?
o Does removing parts take up a lot of time and would a new solution make your lives easier?
o Do you regularly have to replace parts that you could have kept?
o Do you need to improve safety in the workshop/bodyshop?

Top tips: Why is induction heating technology a viable alternative to Oxy-Acetylene?

Using Oxy-Acetylene is risky
The use of a torch in a confined space vastly increases the consequential fire risk – plastics, wiring, trim etc. around the part to be removed can catch fire, causing potentially costly damage. Replacing damaged wiring can be very expensive.

By contrast, induction heating is a safer, more reliable, flameless heat, created by high frequency magnetic fields, which heat ferrous metals.

Reduced Overheads and Insurance premiums
The cost savings from not using Oxy-Acetylene is striking. On average, insurance premiums are 10-30% less (depending on use and insurance company). Added to the average cost of £150 a year to rent a gas bottle and with the majority of parts having to be replaced, the overheads start to mount up.

Works quickly, helping improve productivity and ultimately profits
Flexible coils, supplied with the Mini-Ductor wrap round the nut and heat it in seconds for easy removal. For example, a 19mm nut is heated red hot in just 15 seconds for easy removal.

As the flameless heat is localised on the part and not the surrounding area, collateral damage to the part is minimised, so parts can often be re-used.

Most importantly, using induction heating as a viable heating alternative to a naked flame means technicians are safer in the workshop.

The market leading Inductor® product range, from US company Induction Innovations, Inc., is a high performance invisible heating solution, ideal for automotive mechanics. The range includes the user-friendly Mini-Ductor handheld unit (available in 240V, 110V and 12V versions) and the Pro-Max™ 2kw trolley or work bench mounted inverter.

These CE marked, easy-to-use tools can cope with a variety of heating needs. To find out more, call + 44 (0) 1953 859138, email info@theinductor.co.uk, visit www.theinductor.co.uk or watch a wide variety of application videos at www.youtube.com/theinductoruk

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ASA FINDS SERVICING STOP ADVERT ‘MISLEADING’

Two complaints against aggregator

The ASA received two complaints over claims made on repair aggregator Servicing Stop’s website.

One complainant, who believed that Servicing Stop continuously charged the ‘sale’ price for their services and that the savings were therefore not genuine, challenged whether the savings claims quoted within the ads were misleading and could be substantiated, while the other complaint challenged if the prices were misleading because their vehicle required a specific oil with VM approval that incurred an extra charge.

On the first complaint, the ASA looked at a series of complex savings offered on the website that were promoted as being ‘up to 60 percent off’. In response, Servicing Stop stated that at certain points throughout the year, they ran sales during quiet periods. It provided the ASA with dated and undated invoices showing the price history of the Kia Sedona vehicle servicing. It said that the period of time for which the new lower discounted price was available was not longer than the period of time that the item was listed for at the previous higher price.

It provided a spreadsheet of the sale dates for the servicing of the Kia Sedona and Honda CRV vehicle models over a six-month period from April 2017 to October 2017. There were variations between the ‘previous’ prices stated over this period. Its data showed that the Honda CRV services were on sale for a total of 37 days over a six-month period and the Kia Sedona had a sale period of 41 days over the same six-month period. It explained that there were fluctuations between the previous prices due to the many variants in price between the number of makes multiplied by the number of postcodes.

The ASA disagreed, noting that the ‘previous’ price varied when the discounted price remained the same. It told Servicing Stop to ‘ensure savings claims are genuine’. However, on the price of VM specific oil, the ASA noted that the aggregator put a disclaimer in saying that the price of such oil can vary. As a result, it was not in breach on this complaint.

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IS BANNING DIESEL BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

Scrappage Scheme

Evidence suggests that a rise in petrol registrations is contributing to global warming

Diesel-powered vehicles have been in the news a lot over their environmental performance, or lack thereof. Conversely, industry experts have warned that a clampdown on diesel vehicles could result in the UK actually missing European environmental targets.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at SMMT warned that demonising diesel conversley will have an adverse effect on the environment. “Customers are not moving straight from diesel to electric. They’re moving to petrol or staying put in older cars” he said when speaking at the Society’s annual dinner in December. “So we’re seeing a falling market, declining revenues, rising costs, rising CO2. And, yes, this will have an effect on climate change goals. This is not a policy without consequences”.

Data firm CAP HPI has authored a report which concludes that the EU’s 2021 environmental targets could be missed if the percentage of diesel vehicles continues to decline on UK roads.

The report points out that some of the environmental criticism of diesel vehicles is misguided.

All the countries in the report achieved the 2015 CO2 emission target for cars registered in that year. While France and Italy were comfortably below the 130g/km line, the UK is closer, and Germany only cleared the hurdle by 1.4g/km.

UNACHIEVABLE
Matt Freeman, Managing Consultant at CAP HPI and the report’s author, commented that without continuing sales of diesel engine cars, this target reduction is unachievable: “Hitting the 2021 environmental targets for CO2 reduction would be a significant challenge without the likely decline in diesel. Therefore it is imperative that diesels continue to command a substantial share of the new car marketplace.

“If consumers, with no option of transitioning to hybrid or EVs, switch to petrol the environmental impact is clear – their CO2 emissions would likely rise between three percent and 23 percent according to model.”

The report argues consumer education is key as there is an apparent risk that consumers are being led to believe that ‘all diesel is bad’ and that any suggestion that there is a good diesel option is due to the automotive industry seeking to resist change and preserve the status quo. This level of miscommunication needs to be countered if diesel is to have a short- to medium-term future.

SKEWED
However, the media coverage on diesel is, to say the least, skewed against the fuel no matter what the improvements and consumers are confused. At the aforementioned SMMT dinner, Greenpeace crashed the stage to hand VW boss Paul Willis a faux ‘award’ for ‘toxic air’ and coverage in the mainstream press has been hardly less hostile. This has resulted in drop in demand (by about a fifth) in new registrations for diesel powered cars and new registrations for light vehicles as a whole are down 5.7 percent compared with last year. This has lead to several analysts making doom-laden predictions about the future of new car retail through franchises coming to an end entirely. These might be a little wide of the mark, but it does seem that for a private motorist wanting to upgrade to the latest technology, the idea of a conventional powertrain must seem a bit old fashioned.

Most people reading this might wonder why they should care, after all, surely this is a hole that the VMs have dug for themselves? It doesn’t affect the aftermarket… Unfortunately, it does. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of vehicles won’t go through trade auctions and back into the aftermarket as the VMs are holding their own versions of scrappage schemes. As far as I know, no-one has made a serious attempt to retrofit otherwise efficient Euro- 3 onwards common rail diesel engines with devices to clean up their carcinogenic soot, meaning that they are replaced with petrol vehicles that are only marginally less toxic, but will emit greater quantities of greenhouse gas. Meanwhile, the face of the retail motor industry as a whole is besmirched by the failure of the VMs to get a grip on this situation which is a real pity for all involved.

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

A NEW CHAPTER FOR ANDREW PAGE

Steven Frost and Shay Allen

Of all the places that I thought might be my first visit of the year, a new branch of Andrew Page didn’t seem likely just a few months ago.

But things change, and so today, I’m standing at a shiny shop counter in a new branch. There are displays of tools and accessories with a number of brands and a small screen with a noisy infomercial for something called Gorilla Glue on a loop – something which I suspect will get old very quickly for the staff.

The stockroom, loaded with parts across two levels, is just as clean. Incredibly, building the mezzanine plus racking the whole branch and filling it with stock was achieved in just a week, according to Regional Manager Steven Frost, who was there to meet me along with Southampton Manager Shay Allen and Interim Marketing Manager Richard Swan.

Admittedly, this is not an entirely new branch. There was already a satellite of the Southampton branch in Eastleigh that needed to move or be closed as the lease was up and the landlord wished to redevelop the building. At the same time, parent company LKQ had a recently vacated building that had previously been a JCA Coatings counter, so it seemed logical for one business to move into the empty building.

RATTLING PHONES
However, don’t think that this is nothing more than a re-site. The sales team that manages customers around Eastleigh and Winchester are to move from Southampton into a bright new telesales office upstairs at the Eastleigh branch, and the team have plans to increase the headcount in order to win some new accounts.

“You get closer to your customers when you are in a standalone branch” Steven Frost emphasised, “But in a satellite branch, you become a bit disengaged as your customers don’t know that you’re up the road. So part of the investment is to get more people in”. This will likely include an extra van or two (there are currently six) and possibly extra people to handle the increased pareto and anticipated rise in orders.

The problems faced by the management of Andrew Page have been covered ad infinitum in CAT, but from a customer point of view the main issue has been inconsistent supply and ever-changing brands on the shelf. “There’s nothing worse than having to ring a customer back and tell them that you can’t get something” said Frost, adding that as an ex-ECP man, he breathed a ‘sigh of relief ’ when he heard that LKQ were behind the takeover, because he knew that range and availability would no longer be an issue.

So, is this branch a new start for the hundred year-old factor? “That’s certainly what we’ve been told” said Frost. “There are more moves and openings planned as [LKQ] want to heavily invest in this brand and move it forward. It hasn’t moved as quickly as we wanted, because of the CMA thing, but straight away this is what we want to do”.

NEW BUSINESS
Branch Manager Shay Allen believes that filling gaps in existing accounts and winning new business is entirely possible, due to the good and personal relationships the team have with individual customers. This trait goes back to the days of Camberley Auto Factors which several team members worked for, prior to being bought and rebranded by Page.

“It absolutely comes down to the relationship between the garage and the factor. If there is one thing that sets us apart right now it is people, and the knowledge and level of skill that they have” said Allen.

This is emphasised in the firm’s attitude to outgoing sales calls. Rather than badger people on the phone with an offer of screenwash or whatever, the sales team will prefer to visit customers to make sure they are happy with everything the factor is doing, and looking to see if there are any gaps that can be filled.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t challenges to this expansion. Both MPD, GSF and GAU are active on the patch that the branch wants to take more of as well as the ‘friendly’ competition from the local ECP. Nonetheless, the shiny new branch sends out a clear message to the aftermarket: Andrew Page is back and open for business.

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CAT AWARDS HELD IN MANCHESTER

The sky cleared and the sun shone for the 2018 CAT Awards, sponsored by Automechanika Birmingham, held in the Lowry Hotel in Manchester for the second year.

Over 120 aftermarket professionals gathered to enjoy the networking lunch and to find out who scooped a trophy.

The winners are as follows:

Large Garage of the Year (sponsored by Haynes Pro): Motoserv UK

Independent Garage of the Year (sponsored by Euro Repar Car Service): AAK auto Services

Retailer of the Year (sponsored by Haynes): Wrexham Motoring Supplies

Factor Team of the Year (sponsored by Breck): Bridgend Motor Factor

Factor Chain of the Year (sponsored by Boswell Insurance): AutoParts UK

Supplier of the Year (sponsored by PG Automotive): NGK

Outstanding Achievement (sponsored by Noco): Terry Wainwright

 

Full coverage of the event will be included in the March issue of CAT.

CAT Awards Winners 2018

 

 

 

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PREMIER MOTOR FACTORS GOES INTO ADMINISTRATION

Walsall-based parts supplier Premier Motor Factors has gone into administration.

 Timothy Frank Corfield has been appointed as the official administrator, and an auction of the firm’s assets and stock will be held from February 26 through auctioneer Deeley Matthews..  

Stephen Doyle started the company (officially called Direct Wholesale Europe) in August 2008, right at the start of the recession. The company had a strong online presence, with eBay being a particular strength. However, recent feedback suggests that it struggled to fill orders in the past few weeks, and the administrator was called in just before Christmas.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, NewsComments (0)

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