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OBITUARY: KEVIN SHORTIS 1939-2019

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

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

Kevin Shortis 1939-2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

He will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

 

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PROFITS SLUMP AT HALFORDS FOLLOWING MILD WINTER

PROFITS SLUMP AT HALFORDS FOLLOWING MILD WINTER

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

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

Halfords

Profits down at Halfords following a mild winter

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

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

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DEALER GROUP COMPLAINS ABOUT ‘AGGRESSIVE PRICING” OF TRADE CLUBS

DEALER GROUP COMPLAINS ABOUT ‘AGGRESSIVE PRICING” OF TRADE CLUBS

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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MAN ARRESTED IN FAKE SPARK PLUGS RAID

MAN ARRESTED IN FAKE SPARK PLUGS RAID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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IS THAT CLEAR?: JOHNSON CONTROLS TO BECOME ‘CLARIOS’

IS THAT CLEAR?: JOHNSON CONTROLS TO BECOME ‘CLARIOS’

Johnson Controls Power Solutions has been rebranded as ‘Clarios’. The new name for the battery arm formerly owned by Johnson Controls International comes some months after the business was acquired by private equity firm Brookfield Business Partners in a cash deal valued at $13.2 billion. According to a statement, Clarios intends to continue to provide automotive battery products and services, with a focus on new technology such as traction batteries for electric vehicles.

READ: GKN FIGHTS ‘OPPORTUNISTIC’ HOSTILE TAKEOVER BID

Johnson Controls Battery Technology becomes Clarios

“As a global leader with a product used in virtually every vehicle from conventional to fully electric, we are well positioned to capitalise on market trends, including a move toward more electrified and autonomous vehicles which are elevating the critical role of the battery and accelerating the need for more advanced batteries,” said Joe Walicki, President of Clarios. “Under Brookfield’s ownership, we can better capitalise on these growing trends and operate with more focus and efficiency.”

Clarios currently has 56 facilities worldwide with over 16,000 employees. It is best known in the UK for its Varta battery range. 

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OSRAM COMPLETES RING AUTOMOTIVE ACQUISITION

OSRAM COMPLETES RING AUTOMOTIVE ACQUISITION

Ring Automotive HQ

Lighting manufacturer Osram has completed on the deal to acquire Ring Automotive, following clearance by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The proposed buyout was announced earlier this year, although details of the transaction have not been disclosed. Ring Automotive was previously owned by industrial investment firm Rubicon Partners.

George Skalski, Managing Director of Ring Automotive said of the deal:  “Being part of the Osram family offers us incredible opportunities for further global expansion. The synergies are enormous and will help us to continue our innovation leadership together. In the future, our customers will benefit from the many years of experience of both companies”.

“In addition to expanding our aftermarket portfolio, the acquisition of Ring will enable us to tap into additional sales potential and further expand our market expertise. The aim is to use the additional market and customer access and create synergies in the product portfolio and distribution channels,” said Hans-Joachim Schwabe, CEO of Osram Automotive.

 

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

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 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 MelbournePolice for their efforts in arresting the individual,” said Thomas Smith, Director of Public Relations on a press statement. 

Smith described the action as ‘evidence of a possible systematic corporate mandate’ to curtail the U.S firm’s growth, something CTEK denied, describing it as an ‘untrue allegation’.

While it accepts that the theft occurred, it said the actions were taken by a lone individual, no longer employed by the company.

In a statement, Jon Lind, Chief Executive at CTEK said: “There was an incident involving a CTEK employee at the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo in Melbourne, Australia. That individual acted completely on his own, and in disregard of [our] Code of Conduct and instructions. This was an isolated incident by a person acting at his own behest. This person is no longer employed or otherwise associated with CTEK”.

The statement added that the company has ‘zero tolerance for dishonest conduct against competitors or any other business partners’

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

 

 

  • Updated April 23 to include response from CTEK

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

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

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.

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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.”

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