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LIMITED MOT TESTING TO RESUME IN NORTHERN IRELAND

LIMITED MOT TESTING TO RESUME IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Some MOT testing is to resume in Northern Ireland as the crisis-hit system tries to recover from the effects of lockdown, industrial disputes and widespread technical failure of vehicle ramps.

READ: 12 MONTH MOT EXTENSION ANNOUNCED AS NORTHERN IRELAND MOT CHAOS CONTINUES

However, it will be sometime before the general public will be able to get their own vehicles certified as being safe. Initially, the test will be available only to taxis and busses due a first time test, vehicles not registered in Northern Ireland and vehicles where the MOT expired over a year ago (meaning the vehicle hasn’t been tested for at least two years). Balmoral and Newtownards test centres will not reopen as they are in use as virus testing facilities.

READ: LATEST: NORTHERN IRELAND MOT TEST CRISIS

Testing for all other categories remains suspended and motorists should get a Temporary Exemption Certificate, although DVA phone lines and counter service remain closed.

READ: MOT STRIKE ACTION LIKELY IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Prior to coronavirus, NI’s state-run test centres were already creaking, with reports of motorists booking four months or more in advance, only to have them cancelled at the last minute. 

 

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BREAKING: 27 ANDREW PAGE BRANCHES PERMANENTLY CLOSED

BREAKING: 27 ANDREW PAGE BRANCHES PERMANENTLY CLOSED

Twenty-seven Andrew Page branches will not reopen after lockdown, it has been announced.

Company owner LKQ Euro Car Parts has issued a statement [which you can read here] confirming the closures, but did not comment on the locations affected, nor the number of redundancies, except to say that the branches

File pic of Andrew Page Birmingham

affected were ones that ‘currently operated in close proximity to others’ and ‘where possible, the redeployment of colleagues to create stronger, combined teams’.

READ: BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE TO REBRAND AS LKQ EURO CAR PARTS

The statement comes a day after LKQ Europe announced that Andrew Page and Euro Car Parts would combine under the trading style LKQ Euro Car Parts and operate under the same systems, spelling the end for the Andrew Page name that has been in use since 1917.

 

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BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE TO REBRAND AS LKQ EURO CAR PARTS

BREAKING: ANDREW PAGE TO REBRAND AS LKQ EURO CAR PARTS

The century-old Andrew Page brand is to be dropped as owner LKQ Europe rebrands its UK factors under a single identity.

Signage coming down at former Markham Vale DC in 2018

Both Andrew Page and Euro Car Parts will rebrand as ‘LKQ Euro Car Parts’ as part of a phased roll-out. All employees will now gain access to the same information and systems as revealed in the June edition of CAT.

Across Europe, the LKQ Group is working on a number of integration projects, including the transition to unified purchasing, which will increase the global market leader’s buying power and ability to collaborate with suppliers on innovation.

Andy Hamilton, CEO of the LKQ Euro Car Parts Group, said: “The introduction of the LKQ Euro Car Parts brand is a milestone in our evolution as a business in the UK and Europe”

“Together, as LKQ Euro Car Parts in the UK and as part of the wider LKQ Group in Europe, we are stronger, more competitive and better able to offer a market-leading customer experience”.

READ: ANDREW PAGE AND ECP TRAINING PROGRAMMES MERGE

“At a time when the aftermarket faces some significant and transformational challenges, we are going to be better-equipped than ever before to help prepare it for the future.”

Some recently-merged Andrew Page and Euro Car Parts branches will be among the first to be rebranded under the new LKQ Euro Car Parts fascia.

READ: BREAKING: ECP PARENT ACQUIRES ANDREW PAGE

Andy Hamilton added: “It’s been four years since Andrew Page joined the Euro Car Parts family and we’re proud of the role we played in safeguarding hundreds of years of collective expertise in the aftermarket.

New combined LKQ Euro Car Parts logo for existing Andrew Page and Euro Car Parts branches

“From the beginning, we had a clear rationale to bring some of the industry’s best people together and give them an unrivalled scale and cutting-edge enterprise solutions tools that make their jobs easier.

“Following these changes, we will continue to have an unrivalled nationwide branch network, and will be in a stronger position than ever to drive the business forward.”

There are no current plans to change the LKQ Coatings and Arleigh International brands.

 

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CAUTIOUS ‘RETAIL LITE’ REOPENING OF HALFORDS STORES

CAUTIOUS ‘RETAIL LITE’ REOPENING OF HALFORDS STORES

Halfords has announced it is reopening 53 of its stores across the country with extensive social distancing measures in place, using an operating model that has been called ‘Retail Lite’.

The re-openings follow successful trials at its Peterborough and Bristol Cribbs Causeway stores and will be the first time that customers have been allowed instore since the lockdown was put in place in the UK.

READ: HALFORDS TO INTRODUCE ‘ZERO CONTACT’ SERVICING

Having been granted ‘essential retailer’ status, 335 of Halfords’ 446 retail stores have until now been operating under a Dark Store model during the lockdown. This means that customers have been unable to browse and instead have been placing orders with Halfords colleagues outside the front of the store.

While the majority of Halfords’ stores will continue to operate as Dark Stores for the time being, there are plans to gradually convert and reopen them under the new “Retail Lite” model. However, the firm has stated that there is no timetable or deadline in place for doing so and the pace will instead be dictated entirely by the ‘company’s confidence that it can keep its colleagues and customers safe’.

READ: HALFORDS FORM BUYING PARTNERSHIP WITH FRENCH ALLY

“We are pleased to be in a position to start letting our customers back into our stores”, said Graham Stapleton, CEO of Halfords. “However, we are going to be reopening them to our customers gradually and cautiously in order to be absolutely certain that our colleagues and customers have a safe environment in which to work and shop”.

Halfords reported a sharp rise in the number of customers wanting bikes and related products since lockdown began.

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IGA RAISE MOT EXTENSION CONCERNS WITH TRANSPORT MINISTER

IGA RAISE MOT EXTENSION CONCERNS WITH TRANSPORT MINISTER

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) is the latest trade association to have written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, urging him to end the six-month MOT extension put in place on 30 March 2020.

Other trade bodies including SMMT and IAAF have already taken a similar step to express their concern.

Stuart James

Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive states: “Now that the public are being encouraged to go back to work and avoid using public transport where possible, the time is right to stop the MOT extension.

READ: EXTENDED MOT WILL HAVE CATASTROPHIC EFFECT SAY TRADE BODIES

“With approximately one third of cars failing their initial MOT, millions of faults will be left un-rectified if the full six-month extension goes ahead. Small defects that would have been found in the MOT test will worsen, not only leading to an increase in the number of dangerous cars on the road, but an increase in future repair costs for vehicle owners too.

READ: 12 MONTH MOT EXTENSION ANNOUNCED AS NORTHERN IRELAND MOT CHAOS CONTINUES

“Leaving vehicles unchecked also puts motorists at risk of prosecution for driving an unsafe vehicle when it has been exempted from MOT testing. For example, 580,000 vehicles will have illegal tyres today, which will rise by another 290,000 by the end of the MOT extension. These drivers face a fine of up to £2,500 for each tyre and three penalty points. This is a simple defect which could have been easily rectified if an inspection was carried out, but could now cost the driver dearly and put themselves and others at risk.

“Stopping the MOT extension without delay will ensure that many more cars are roadworthy, and another major step will be taken in helping the UK economy recover” James concluded. 

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NEWS: EQUIPAUTO SHOW 2021’s ‘CHANGE IN POSITIONING’

NEWS: EQUIPAUTO SHOW 2021’s ‘CHANGE IN POSITIONING’

The 2021 edition of the EquipAuto trade fair in Paris is to ‘change position’ according to a statement from the organiser.

It is unclear from the statement what exactly the ‘change in position’ will be, but it is clear that as the show is to place only a month after the new dates for Automechanika Frankfurt, the Paris event must either be rescheduled, or the event must be changed to focus on something other than light vehicle service and repair.

READ: BREAKING: AUTOMECHANIKA 2020 CANCELLED

The full statement (in a direct translation) issued by Philippe Baudin, Chairman of Equip Auto reads as follows:

The unprecedented health crisis that has taken hold over the last few months throughout the world, leading to an unprecedented economic crisis, is bringing all French and international players in the exhibition ecosystem to consider different scenarios for their respective events. Since 2017, with its return to Paris Porte de Versailles, the EQUIP AUTO show has been on a highly positive trend, evidenced by the powerful mobilization of professionals in the automotive aftermarket and mobility services sector. Since the beginning of the year the organisers have been building on these solid foundations, reflecting in depth on the evolution of sectors and the expectations of professionals in order to build the EQUIP AUTO of the future, adjusting it to the changes happening in the market. In these circumstances which have been substantially modified by the current crisis, the FIEV and its partners, the FFC and the COMEXPOSIUM group, organisers of the EQUIP AUTO show, working in the interests of companies and the market, are building these new conditions into their reflections in order to define the new development avenues of the show in a long-term perspective and not just in the short term in the face of events. Thinking before they act rather than reacting on the spur of the moment: such is the path that the organisers have mapped out for themselves to redefine the contours of the show in its positioning and format and offer all stakeholders the most suitable long-term solutions for the future.

Look out for the July issue of CAT, which contains an exclusive interview with Michael Johannes, Organiser of Automechanika Frankfurt. 

 

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EXTENDED MOT WILL HAVE ‘CATASTROPHIC’ EFFECT SAY TRADE BODIES

EXTENDED MOT WILL HAVE ‘CATASTROPHIC’ EFFECT SAY TRADE BODIES

Two trade bodies have issued warnings about the likely impact that the MOT extension will have on independent garages and parts distributors. 

Both The IGA and the IAAF have written to the government to explain how they believe the extension will impact our trade. 

In its letter, the IGA included a suggestion that proposing to government that they start with an initial six-week MOT extension period, which could then then be reviewed on a weekly basis, rather than a blanket six-month extension. 

READ: IAAF BOSS: GOVT. MUST HELP THE AFTERMARKET

In a statement, the trade body said: ‘The government needs to consider that many MOT operations, being small businesses, will have their cashflow seriously impacted once this situation is over. Next year will bring about a significant reduction of tests in March, April and May and with some businesses in this sector only conducting MOT tests, in these instances, the crisis will extend for many years ahead’.

READ: CORONAVIRUS: MORE THAN 60 PERCENT OF GARAGES HAVE SHUT

Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive states: “We really need the government to take this on board. We understand that measures need to be put in place to fight the virus, and support these measures, however we do not agree with the six months extension of MOTs. We urge the government to show a degree of flexibility, as the repercussions for the independent sector will be severe.”

“Better guidance also needs to be given to the public regarding the extension to ensure that vehicles remain roadworthy.”

Meanwhile, The IAAF has said the decision to extend MOTs causes “huge challenges” for the sector, arguing that the industry needs to ensure ‘vehicles continue to be kept safe in these challenging times’. 

 

After receiving feedback from its membership of suppliers and distributors, the IAAF found that many motor factors fear that without MOT business, some garages will no longer be viable.

 

Another concern expressed by members is that the majority of consumers do not realise that they are expected to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and if not, they could face large fines and penalty points. Failure to meet the Government’s “roadworthy” condition specification means that some vehicles will be driven in a dangerous condition, and in turn would allow the insurance companies to refuse to honour the insurance as they’d be able to demonstrate that the car or van was in an un-roadworthy condition. 

 

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: “The extension is having a ‘catastrophic’ knock on effect on the parts supply chain who are struggling to keep open. Business is down at least 50 percent and some outlets have already closed. We absolutely need to keep essential logistics, blue light services and key workers on the move but these groups could struggle to find anyone open for either parts or repair.”

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PARTS ALLIANCE UPDATES ON BUSINESS OPERATIONS

PARTS ALLIANCE UPDATES ON BUSINESS OPERATIONS

The following statement on continued trading has been issued by the Parts Alliance:

 

The coronavirus situation presents people and businesses across the world with unprecedented challenges every day and a need to make decisions in both personal and professional lives that would have seemed unfathomable just a matter of weeks ago.

The Parts Alliance’s priority is delivering both on their social responsibilities of helping to prevent the spread of this virus and in performing their role as a vital service keeping the vehicles moving that in turn provide essential workers, emergency services and critical supply chains with the transport they need.

The fast-moving developments of recent days saw the Government confirm that garages can remain open1. The group’s branch network therefore will continue to offer trade deliveries.

DVSA has provided clarification that MOT testing can be completed ‘behind closed doors’ and without issuing paper documents1 to customers where an MOT is due before 30th March before yesterday (25th March) confirming that MOTs due after 30th March would be automatically extended by six months2 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Motorists still have a responsibility to ‘keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition’ and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has recognised garages provide ‘vital services’, adding they can ‘remain open for essential repair work’.

“We feel it’s our social responsibility to continue supporting garages across the UK at this crucial time, operating in a way that keeps our people and our customers as safe as possible,” said Neil Croxson, Chief Executive Officer of The Parts Alliance. “Our motor factor branches provide the vital link between suppliers and garages that need quality products to keep cars moving safely.

“The decision on whether garages remain open will be taken by them individually with mind to the risks involved and the needs of their communities, but the fact is many people are reliant on cars, either as key workers travelling to jobs, or to buy food and medicines.”

The Parts Alliance also supplies national accounts operating breakdown recovery, emergency service and transport delivery vehicles.

Garages are advised that service levels may be reduced to improve the safety of staff and the group has implemented a wide range of safety measures, including increased cleaning of vehicles and premises with latex gloves used on delivery routes.

Online orders can still be delivered to home addresses. The popular ‘Click and Collect’ service has been suspended to reduce branch contact, but will be reinstated shortly for essential trade and key workers only.

“There’s clearly a difficult balance to strike,” said Neil Croxson. “Safety of staff and compliance with government guidance are our top priorities, but we will maintain parts supply where possible.”

The Parts Alliance emphasises that despite speculation, there are no significant shortages of products emerging within the supply chain currently.

The Parts Alliance has further information available at www.thepartsalliance.com/covid-19 and this page will be reviewed and updated as required.

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CORONAVIRUS AND THE AFTERMARKET

CORONAVIRUS AND THE AFTERMARKET

Note: This article was written in mid February 2020, when the world was a very different place… – Editor

 

You will have heard all about it: the virus that migrated from species to species in China before spreading around the world. Thousands of column inches have been written, mostly about the human cost and how it has affected the way that people meet and travel, but how will it affect the parts supply chain, and more specifically the aftermarket?

Here’s what we know for sure: factories in China closed as usual for the Chinese New Year celebrations, but didn’t reopen for weeks afterwards. When they eventually did start up again, there were reports of many of them having a fraction of the usual number of staff, due in no small part to many being in isolation, be it voluntarily or at the behest of the state.

Then of course the virus spread, with huge tracts of Asia, including South Korea and Japan, implementing an array of preventative measures to control the outbreak. Closer to home, Italy was accused of under-reporting known cases and parts-producing towns in the country’s ‘motor valley’ have been belatedly shut down.

READ: BREMBO SHUTS ITALIAN SITES AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

SHY RESPONSE

Yet when we asked companies who must surely be exposed to supplier shortages, the answers we got were surprisingly coy. Halfords, for example, wouldn’t answer our list of questions, but did respond with the statement: “We are monitoring the Coronavirus situation carefully. To date, the virus has not had a material impact on stock availability but we are continuing to work closely with our partners across the Far East.”

Similarly, Euro Car Parts answered our request with the simple sentence: “To date, we’ve not experienced any issues with stock availability because of the Coronavirus outbreak. We’re aware of the risk of disruption it still poses, and our supply chain team is working on contingency plans and is in regular dialogue with our suppliers to ensure we’re prepared to mitigate against any potential impact.”

Some other companies simply declined to discuss the issue at all. However, the fact that parts and accessory supply chains have, at the very least, been interrupted is not in dispute.

READ: IAAF BOSS: GOVT. MUST HELP THE AFTERMARKET

TYRE SHORTAGE

Tyres are known to be in short supply at the moment, especially budget products which are typically produced in China or Malaysia. The problem has become such a concern that TyreSafe, a body set up by wholesale distributors and tyre dealers, has issued a release advising motorists to fork out a bit of extra cash for mid-range or premium tyres, and not to buy part-worns, of which the organisation has a low opinion, as it has repeatedly voiced.

Stuart Jackson, Chair of TyreSafe, said: “The vast majority of [budget tyres] are imported into the country from China and across South East Asia where the outbreak of Coronavirus has led to governments closing facilities such as schools and factories to limit the spread. As a consequence, the level of supply the UK has become accustomed to for many products has been reduced.

PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media

“Our advice is to seek a good deal on a mid-priced tyre and carry out regular checks to get the best out of that tyre over its full potential lifespan.”

National Tyre Dealer Association Chair Stefan Hay said that most members had a good stock of mid-range tyres, but added: “There can be no doubt that we could see a potential shortage of budget tyres if quarantine and export restrictions are maintained.

“This will affect all manufacturers with an interest in China and other South East Asian countries. For example, I’m aware that production at two of Pirelli’s three factories in China remains suspended in response to the spread of coronavirus. Pirelli has also reported that its entire expat workforce has left the country along with their families. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. ‘temporarily’ closed its headquarters and factory in China and the beginning of February and it is uncertain as to how temporary that is.”

Hay added that restrictions in supply can soon bounce back, citing a shortage of tyres a few years ago due to a trade dispute between the EU and China, which was swiftly resolved.

SHUTDOWN

It isn’t just tyres that are affected. The widest range of factory closures is in southern China, which is the heartland for manufacturing electronics, as well as the site of numerous foundries for making hard parts. Murray Silverman, Director of Streetwize Accessories in Manchester, is candid about the impact that factory shutdowns will have on UK business. “ALL businesses will be affected,” he emphasised. “Some might not realise it yet.”

“All suppliers that we have spoken to have advised at least a three week delay as it stands today,” Silverman told us when we spoke in mid February, adding that the date was ‘moveable daily’ and that at the time of speaking, his company could not even contact many of the factories that had not yet returned to work.

A big question mark hanging over the whole situation concerned just how long these delays might become. “Nobody knows how long these delays could go on for,” said Silverman. “We contacted all our customers to advise them that there will be shortages that will escalate during the summer months or earlier and advise them to order whilst we have stocks available. Some customers have reacted but unfortunately there will be those who will realise too late despite warnings.”

One company reacting to the situation is battery charger manufacturer Ctek. “Our suppliers have restarted their production and supply following Chinese New Year,” company spokesperson Stig Mathisen told us. “We are mindful however, that there is a risk that the outbreak could worsen and will continue to monitor the situation closely, introducing contingency plans if there is a requirement to do so.”

Sourcing products from elsewhere is not an option for many, particularly given that northern Italy, a major European production centre of parts, is arguably in a worse state than China at the time of writing. In any case, for the majority of companies it isn’t simply a case of switching production – new suppliers need to be tested, pricing and quantities have to be agreed and then go through any relevant type approval. “Sourcing product elsewhere is not an option, even if we could find the resource and the pricing was acceptable, it takes time to go through our QC and graphics teams,” explained Murray Silverman, adding that in any case a lot of UK and European-made products would also be in short supply, due to the amount of raw material and components that come from the Far East.

A situation that no-one two months ago could have foreseen is the possibility that UK companies might have to let employees work from home if the number of infections in the UK continues to rise. Quite how this could work for a parts distributor or a service and repair garage is anyone’s guess, but if the outbreak spreads further and there are more fatalities, who knows what might happen in the future?

Inevitably, the world will return to normal, and when this happens a new set of challenges may arise. “Even when factories do return, there are likely to be transport issues from the factory to the port and a lack of vessels to cope,” commented Silverman, adding that: “Another eventuality that may occur is that shipping companies and freight forwarders raise their rates to try to pull back the enormous amount of business they have lost.

“There will be further impact in the future,” he concluded.

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BREAKING: SPARTAN ACQUIRED BY MOTORMANIA PARENT

BREAKING: SPARTAN ACQUIRED BY MOTORMANIA PARENT

BREAKING: News has been confirmed that Spartan Motor Factors has been sold by the administrators at Deloitte to MWR Sales Limited. The following statement has just been released by Deloitte:

Richard Hawes and Matt Cowlishaw were appointed as joint administrators to Spartan Motor Factors Limited (“the Company”) on 13 March 2020. Following the appointment, the business was successfully sold to MWR Sales Limited on 18 March 2020.

READ: MotorMania chain bought by Tetrosyl

The Company is a motor parts business operating a central hub in Newport and ten other branches across South Wales and the South West serving over 1,400 customers. The Company employs 135 across its network.

READ: SPARTAN LEAVES PARTS DISTRIBUTION PARTNERSHIP FOR IFA

MWR Sales Limited operates the motor factors and retail businesses of Motor World, Motormania and Sparesworld. The Company’s employees will transfer to the new owner.

Richard Hawes, joint administrator, said: “We’re extremely pleased we managed to find a new owner for the business through these particularly challenging times. We’d like to thank the employees for their support and wish the new owners every success in the future.”

 

We’ll bring you more information on this breaking story as we get it.

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