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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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UPDATE: SPARTAN MOTOR FACTORS ENTERS ADMINISTRATION

UPDATE: SPARTAN MOTOR FACTORS ENTERS ADMINISTRATION

***UPDATE: March 19, 14:30. Branches are trading again and CAT understands talks are underway with a potential buyer*** 

 

***UPDATE: Spartan acquired by Motormania holding company ****

 

Cardiff-based Spartan Motor Factors, which operates a number of branches and employs 145 people across South Wales and the west of England, has entered administration.

The administration process will be carried out by Deloitte’s Cardiff office. CAT spoke to a Deloitte representative, who confirmed that the firm was appointed on 13 March.

Deloitte also said there have been no redundancies so far, but was unable to confirm whether Spartan’s Newport head office and 10 additional branches were operating as usual.

READ: GROWTH IN SPARTAN TIMES

Founded in January 2012, Spartan claims to have “one of the largest distribution centres and stockholdings in the South West”, with over 500,000 individual references available to order. A USP of the firm was a two-year guarantee on each parts sold. In its early years, Spartan won CAT’s Independent Factor of the Year award three times, and more recently picked up an award for enterprise from the Welsh government. 

READ: SPARTAN LEAVES PARTS DISTRIBUTION PARTNERSHIP FOR IFA

In 2018, Spartan rapidly expanded, opening two new branches in Blackwood and Swansea, shortly after cutting the ribbon at a new site in Pontypridd and a specialist cooling centre in Abercarn. Director Lee Gratton at the time said: “We are actively looking to expand the Spartan network further into England through either acquisitions or branch openings if the right individuals approach us.”

An official statement from Deloitte is expected to be released imminently. We’ll post it as soon as we have it.  

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AUTOINFORM EVENT CANCELLED

AUTOINFORM EVENT CANCELLED

The Autoinform Live technical and training event which was due to be held at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton between Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th April, has been cancelled.

Fatiha Laauich, Marketing Manager at Denso, one of the OESAA members organising the event said:  “Naturally, I am sad that Autoinform Live in Wolverhampton will not be going ahead this year; however, staff and visitors’ health and well-being are the priority and this decision is a reflection of that.”

Another event to be held

Frank Massey at AutoInform 2017

in Dublin in September is scheduled to go ahead as planned.

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CAT AWARDS 2020: ALL THE WINNERS

CAT AWARDS 2020: ALL THE WINNERS

The 2020 edition of CAT’s annual awards ceremony took place at Manchester’s prestigious Lowry Hotel on 5 February. We celebrated the best our industry has to offer, with awards handed to those who most impressed our judging panel and readers.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the afternoon, and a huge congratulations to all the winners!

Take a look at who won each category here:

Factor Chain of the Year: Pentland Component Parts

Sponsored by UFI Filters

Garage Concept of the Year Award: Autocare

Independent Garage of the Year: Uckfield Motor Services

Sponsored by Toyota First

Supplier of the Year: Bilstein Group 

Sponsored by Automechanika

Rising Star: Bridgend College students

Industry Partner (as voted by readers): Impression Communications

Retailer of the Year: J G Bestwicks

Outstanding Achievement: Andy Kent, Andy’s Kars

Factor Branch Team of the Year: Wilco Motosave Grimsby 

Sponsored by Boswell

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SMPE GETS NEW ISO CERTIFICATE

SMPE GETS NEW ISO CERTIFICATE

Standard Motor Products Europe (SMPE), one of the UK’s largest independently owned  suppliers, has achieved the management system standard ISO14001:2015. 

The standard, which is in addition to the company’s ISO:9001 certification, applies to both its Nottingham and Poland facility. The new standard provides SMPE with an environmental management system framework in order to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner, contributing to greener sustainability, covering criteria including recycling, lower carbon footprint and waste reduction.

READ: New standard fixes child seat fitting fears

The updated 2015 standard includes the latest requirements relating to the context of the organisation, leadership, strategic environmental management, risk and opportunities, life-cycle perspective, performance evaluation and auditing.

Richard Morley, SMPE Commercial Director, said: “This achievement demonstrates both our professionalism and reliability as a company and signals to new and existing customers that SMPE is a perfect partner to do business with”. 

SMPE UK building

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BOSCH TO ACQUIRE UNIPART CAR CARE CENTRES

BOSCH TO ACQUIRE UNIPART CAR CARE CENTRES

Industrial giant Bosch has announced its intention to acquire Unipart Group’s workshop programmes in the UK. These programmes include the Unipart Car Care Centres (UCCC), a network of independently run garages, the KiS online garage management software, which helps to organise all daily workshop activities, and the ‘Unipartner’ Consumer App. It is planned for all existing customer contracts to be transferred to Bosch. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“This acquisition perfectly fits with our growth strategy for the United Kingdom and Ireland”, Steffen Hoffmann, President Bosch UK and Ireland, said. “It is a significant step that increases our network of partner garages creating new sales channels for our automotive parts, diagnostics, and workshop services with these customers.”

Established in 1995, Uniparts’ Car Care Centre is one of the most recognised workshop programmes in the UK. Bosch will take over the marketing support and training services for the garages plus ensure access to Bosch’s full range of automotive parts, diagnostics and workshop services.

UCCC to become part of Bosch

Mike Ferris, Unipart International Managing Director said: “We’ve been working in close partnership with Bosch for many years on a number of joint initiatives and they share many of Unipart’s core values and principles. I am delighted that the Unipart Autoparts Garage Programmes will be transferring to a trusted business in Bosch who will further develop the programmes, whilst maintaining the needs of the garage and consumer at the forefront of their plans”

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PEOPLE NEWS: NEIL GRANT IS NEW MD AT HELLA

PEOPLE NEWS: NEIL GRANT IS NEW MD AT HELLA

Chipping Warden-based Hella UK has announced its new UK Managing Director, Neil Grant, who will officially begin his latest role in January 2020.

Mr Grant had been the Financial Director  of the company for four years and has a wealth of financial experience behind him.

New Hella UK MD, Neil Grant

READ: HELLA AND PLASTIC OMNIUM SIGN  COOPERATION PACT

He will be taking over from current MD, Matthew Say, who has been leading the UK operation for the past four and a half years.

Commenting on his appointment, Neil said: “I have a great deal of customer knowledge, am aware of the potential growth areas and intend to continue the good work that Matthew [Say] has established. I am therefore, very much looking forward to leading Hella through the next chapter in its journey.”

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HALFORDS FORM BUYING PARTNERSHIP WITH FRENCH ALLY

HALFORDS FORM BUYING PARTNERSHIP WITH FRENCH ALLY

UK accessory and parts chain Halfords has announced a new ‘strategic partnership’ with Mobivia, the French company behind European fast-fit brands including Norauto, ATU and Midas. 

The deal will see the two firms working together to source and purchase own-brand products, with the aim of streamlining development and expanding their ranges of motoring and cycling-related products. 

READ: HALFORDS ACQUIRES MCCONECHYS FOR £9.3M

Halfords

Deal with French firm to jointly source and develop new products

Mobivia is hopeful that the move will also benefit customers and consumers, claiming that it ‘will enable both companies to improve the quality and choice of products available’. Additionally, the firms have agreed to continue working with their existing supplier partners on a local and national level. 

Halfords CEO Graham Stapleton claims the new relationship will help the firm to serve ‘customers even better, further improving choice, quality and value’. 

The news comes following Halfords’ recent acquisition of Scottish garage network McConechy’s for £9.3 million, which Stapleton described at the time as ‘highly complementary’ to his company’s existing product and service offering. 

READ: PROFITS SLUMP AT HALFORDS FOLLOWING MILD WINTER

Halfords’ half-year financial results revealed a 2.5 percent profit drop and 2.9 percent revenue decline in the six months leading up to 27 September. 

Mobivia was founded in 1970 as a Lille-based repairs and accessories store. Today, it represents nine brands and 27 start-ups across the automotive sector, with more than 23,000 employees, and 2000 workshops and stores in its network.

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