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BOOKINGS TAKEN FOR AUTOMECHANIKA B’HAM 2019

A number of suppliers have been confirmed as exhibitors for the Automechanika Birmingham show to be held in 2019.

Big names already booked include Schaeffler, ZF, Denso, Delphi Technologies, Valeo, Bosch, Hella, Bilstein Group, NGK and Yuasa.

The 2019 edition will be the last annual show before it switches to a biennial format. This was in response to a number of larger visitors expressing concerns that exhibiting at both Frankfurt and Birmingham in the same year was too much of a stretch.

Show bosses are predicting more than 600 exhibitors and as many as 12,000 delegates for show, now in its fourth year.

Jack Halliday,  Head of Sales for the show, said: “The event will go biennial from 2019 – we’re already experiencing a high demand from companies wanting to exhibit to ensure they see the market before 2021.”

 

 

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CAT DIARY: EDITORS SUMMER TRAVELS

Tuesday May 22 Greg Whitaker

Having just got back from Autoparts in Glasgow, I’m now off on my holidays to Seattle, and am (somewhat predictably) still putting the final touches on the issue while waiting at the airport. The pages are sent just as the flight opened for boarding…

Wednesday May 30 Greg Whitaker

In America, I’m interested to see some of the factor chains that we so often write about. I stop in at a branch of NAPA to ask some questions and to pick up some own-brand bulbs (which turn out to have been made in the Far East). I also note a factor called O’Reilly which, in common with most Irish-american businesses, is covered in Irish cliches. I wonder what Team P.R Reilly (an actual Irish factor) would make of it?

 

Tuesday 4 June Greg Whitaker

Back home and it’s straight from Heathrow to Birmingham International (or more precisely the NEC). One of these days I’ll learn about time differences…

 

Wednesday 6 June Greg Whitaker

Automechanika Birmingham is in full swing, and I’m pleased to meet so many readers at the show. With lots of meetings booked and forums to attend, the sales team and I will be very busy. The rumour mill is also in full swing at the show. If only half of them were printable…

 

Thursday 14 June Greg Whitaker

It’s a pleasant summer afternoon for a drive down the A3 to Melksham for a visit to the factor show (covered in Connections). It was pleasing to see a good number of garages turn up to see what the suppliers have to offer.

 

Friday 29 June Greg Whitaker

So what is the truth in these rumours about a new, disruptive buying group? I have several meetings next week where I hope all will be cleared up. However, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until next month to learn more…

 

Monday July 3 (AM) Greg Whitaker

It’s just me getting the magazine out this month… I had better get on with it.First of all, I have a meeting with Alastair Whatmore and the PDP in Doncaster. The news, as I’m sure you are all aware now, is that Jim Mazza has joined their ranks.

 

Monday July 3 (PM) Greg Whitaker

From there is is a short run to see Colin Smit from brake manufacturer Lumag, where we spend an interesting hour or so chewing the fat of all the changes in the aftermarket at the moment.

 

Tuesday July 4 Greg Whitaker

There’s no rest for the wicked… This is certainly true in the pool car as the drive from Doncaster last night to my next appointment in Barnstable this morning turned out to be both longer and far hotter than I had expected. However, it was good to look at Ultra Parts and even more interesting to visit a Parts Alliance Southwest branch. For all we have written about the house-branded branches, I had never actually visited one before.

 

Wednesday July 18 Greg Whitaker

My Yaris Verso has been off the road for a month or so as I hadn’t got around to MOT-ing it. More fool me, as the the byzantine changes to the tes

 

t make knowing what to check before presenting it that much harder. The garage discovered it needed drop links and rear springs, which I thought was getting away pretty lightly, until I got a bill for £500… Next time, I’ll supply the parts myself.

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AUTOELECTRO AND CAAR SIGN DEAL

AUTOELECTRO AND CAAR SIGN DEAL

A supply deal has been struck between Autoelectro and accessory parts retailer CAAR.

The partnership will see the latter take advantage of Autoelectro’s extensive portfolio of remanufactured starter motors and alternators including its surcharge-free non-exchange (NEX) units. In addition, the former will be rolling out its recently-launched Active Inventory Management System (AIMS) to CAAR’s supplier base; allowing them to maximise their chances of returning old core as well as keeping close tabs on any outstanding surcharges owed,  following the company’s new pricing strategy.

Tony Bhogal, Managing Director of Autoelectro commented: “Having held discussions with senior staff at CAAR, we have agreed a competitive package for its members, to ensure they and their workshop customers receive the best value-for-money but premium quality product available”, he continued: “CAAR members will have access to the best range and availability of rotating electrics, along with a free next working-day AM delivery.”

Adding to his sentiment, CAAR MD David Owen said: “We are delighted to welcome Autoelectro on-board as an approved CAAR supplier, and the appointment has been warmly welcomed by CAAR members, many of whom were already using them for their rotating electrics.”

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EPIC ACCESSORIES GETS TRICO VAN

EPIC ACCESSORIES GETS TRICO VAN

New sporty van for Epic Accessories

Wiper blade brand Trico has presented Epic Accessories with a Trico liveried Ford Fiesta van, after the latter achieved its target during the former’s three-month promotion last year.

The vehicle was handed over to Epic Accessories owner Samantha Gutteridge at the A1 buying group’s spring trade show, which took place at the Whittlebury Hall in Towcester last month.

Speaking of her firm’s new addition, Gutteridge said: “The new vehicle will help us on both a promotional and practical level in getting the message out to potential customers that we fit wiper blades in our designated fitting bay at the rear of our store, so a huge thanks to Trico.”

Sam Robinson, Product Manager at Trico, added: “The show was a great success for us, in particular our promotional offer on Neoform retro-fit beam blades, which was well received with a number of members who placed orders for a merchandise box on the day. We also agreed plans with various members to help boost their sales, including supply of in-store signage, as well as training days to educate and support their staff on selling and fitting Trico blades.”

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SUPPLIERS FINED IN RECENT CARTELS

SUPPLIERS FINED IN RECENT CARTELS

Another cartel has been exposed

The European Commission has fined OE suppliers Bosch, Continental and NGK a total of €151M, after participating in one or more of five historic cartels concerning the supplies of spark plugs, hydraulic and electronic brake system components to VMs in Europe.

The first cartel lasted from 2000 until 2011 and aimed at avoiding competition by respecting each other’s traditional customers and maintaining the existing status quo in the spark plugs industry in the European Economic Area.

The second and third related to the supply of various braking components including electronic parking brake systems between 2007 and 2011.

All suppliers acknowledged their participation in these cartels and agreed to settle the
case. Denso was also involved in the first cartel, but was not fined after revealing the existence of its cartel to the Commission. TRW also escaped fines altogether for disclosing the second and third cartels, while Continental avoided charges for one of the two cartels it participated in on the same grounds.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy said: “These cases are about collusion at the expense of car makers. But in the end, any extra costs these carmakers may have incurred could potentially be passed on to final consumers when they buy a car. So our work will help to make sure that those markets work fairly for consumers.” She concluded added: “Today’s decisions are unrelated to our investigation that several German carmakers might have broken EU competition rules. That is still ongoing”.

“We will be active in this area as long as we keep finding companies that hope to
make higher profits by colluding instead of competing.”

Previously, bearing suppliers and air conditioning component makers have been fined under the same anti-trust rules for colluding against vehicle manufacturers.

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EURO CAR PARTS ACQUIRES NEW WAREHOUSES

EURO CAR PARTS ACQUIRES NEW WAREHOUSES

Two sites, similar to this, have been acquired by ECP

Factor chain Euro Car Parts has acquired trade counters in Scarborough and Normanton, Wakefield. The acquisition was completed on behalf of American commercial real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield; however, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Scarborough site is now open on Seamer Rd between Howdens and Toolstation, housing 17 staff and six delivery vans within its 3,356 sq ft warehouse. Meanwhile, the Wakefield branch will open in due course on Good Hope Close, located off Pontefract Rd near Junction 31 of the M62 motorway.

“We are delighted to have been able to secure both these sites for ECP, allowing them to expand their presence and better service their ever- growing customer base”, notes Henry King of the Logistics & Industrial team at Cushman & Wakefield. “These new locations are the first of an ambitious 2018 expansion plan
and signify a purposeful and positive start to the year.”

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OIL SUPPLIERS STRIKE DEALS

OIL SUPPLIERS STRIKE DEALS

Lucas Oil MD Les Downey

CV factor Digraph has inked a deal with lubricant firm Millers Oil. The move follows the factor chain’s expansion plans .

“As we continue to support the CV market, we were keen to partner with a company that has an innovative roadmap for growth”, notes Andy Black, Platform Business Manager at Millers Oil. “Digraph has exciting development plans and is recognised for its service and support. We are looking forward to driving innovation together”.

Elsewhere, France-based lube supplier Motul has done a deal with Automotive Brands to distribute it’s passenger car oil range in the UK.

Gunter Steven, Head of BU Sales Export for Motul, said, “To also have the opportunity to work with Automotive Brands to expand our presence in the UK Aftermarket sector was an  exciting opportunity for us both. We are delighted to work together”

Motul was already a sponsor of Automotive Brands’ Power Maxed Racing and prior to the distribution deal had renewed sponsorship of PMR’s Astra touring cars for the new season.

On a similar note, A1 Motor Stores now distributes Lucas Oil products, after the latter received ‘Approved Supplier’ status from the group.

Commenting on this partnership, Lucas Oil MD Les Downey, said: “It’s an exciting time for us. It is a terrific opportunity for us and for A1 members, too”.
He added: “We will be working directly with them to increase product awareness and to boost sales”.

Meanwhile, garage aggregator WhoCanFixMyCar has arranged a partnership with Shell. The website and the oil major will share stand space at the upcoming Automechanika Birmingham. Al Preston, co-founder of WhoCanFixMyCar. com, said, “We’re excited to be returning to Automechanika Birmingham. I’m sure it’ll be better than ever, especially as we’re partnering with Shell”.

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PARTS ALLIANCE OPENS NEW BRANCHES

PARTS ALLIANCE OPENS NEW BRANCHES

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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FORGE GARAGE FACES ‘UNCERTAIN’ FUTURE

FORGE GARAGE FACES ‘UNCERTAIN’ FUTURE

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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UNION ASKS AA TO CONSIDER ‘DEBT FOR EQUITY’ SWAP

UNION ASKS AA TO CONSIDER ‘DEBT FOR EQUITY’ SWAP

AA faces a tough few years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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