Tag Archive | "aftermarket"

AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM HIGHLIGHTS 2017

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AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM HIGHLIGHTS 2017


This year’s Automechanika Birmingham show attracted over 800 exhibitors and 12,000 visitors including garages, motor factors and parts retailers.

With the extra hall space and longer opening hours meant aftermarket professionals had more opportunities to discover new technology, learn new skills and network with other industry experts.

For those who missed out  can watch show highlights in the video below and get a sneak peak into the third edition taking place next year.

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GARAGE CUSTOMER £70K FINE FOR FALSE CLAIM

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GARAGE CUSTOMER £70K FINE FOR FALSE CLAIM


A JUDGE has ordered a woman to pay £70,000 in costs and damages following the ‘implausible’ claim that an independent garage deliberately tripped her up.

In a story that first appeared in the Mail Online, Yvette Thomas had lodged a £200,000 compensation claim against the workshop, saying that an alleged fall had left her injured and unable to work.

She also claimed she had been forced to cancel an overseas holiday, quit dancing lessons and could no longer go to the gym.

Southwick Service Centre in Trowbridge, Wiltshire denied that she tripped and said a hosepipe in a valeting bay had only brushed against her leg.

Hospital records show that Thomas had been examined at A&E by medical staff but X-rays showed no signs of trauma.

District Judge Francis Goddard told Bath County Court: “In my judgment the case that Mrs Thomas puts forward simply does not add up.

“I do not find her story in any way believable notwithstanding that she may well have by now convinced herself that what she said happened did happen.

“Something happened on that day that caused Mrs Thomas to come up with a version of events that, on a hearing of the evidence, is quite implausible.

“It was not a pre-thought out plan.

“The story put to the court germinated on that day and was elaborated upon over the months and years that followed.”

Thomas had said the alleged incident took place when she dropped her daughter’s Mini Cooper at the garage for an MOT, saying that a someone cleaning a car had deliberately tripped her up with an industrial pressure washer hose.

Car valeter, Edward Slow said: “I was rather angry when I heard what she was saying. “I remember her coming in.

“She was walking around and she said the hosepipe rubbed against her leg and that it was an accident waiting to happen.

“Then suddenly it became this whole story that I had deliberately tripped her up – something I would never do.”

Solicitor Tim Marshal of DFE Law who acted on behalf of the garage told the Mail: “Mrs Thomas painted a picture of being a very disabled woman as a result of this. She said she couldn’t leave the house without a walking stick, drink a cup of tea or clean her teeth”.

“But a surveillance firm hired to follow her found that she was walking fine and there was no sign of any physical impairment – no walking stick, nothing”.

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MICHELIN: EASY WAY TO INCREASE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ SAFETY

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MICHELIN: EASY WAY TO INCREASE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ SAFETY


PROMOTIONAL ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF MICHELIN

 

MICHELIN OFFERS AN EASY WAY TO INCREASE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ DRIVING SAFETY

Few factors impact driver and passenger safety more than driver visibility, and the best way to ensure safe driving is to have a clear and unobstructed view through the windscreen.

Studies show that the majority of motorists’ driving decisions are based on how well they can see the road, and driving in poor weather conditions, such as rain, sleet, hail or snow, significantly increases the risk of collision.

That’s where the innovative MICHELIN Stealth Hybrid wiper blade can make the difference between clear and safe – or unclear and unsafe.

Design that drives excellence
MICHELIN Stealth Hybrid wiper blades are durable, high-performing and quiet, bringing together the best performance components of traditional and frameless blades.

They combine the latest in wiper blade technology with MICHELIN’s unique ‘Smart Flex’ technology, to create a blade that adapts to the windscreen’s shape for superior contact and clear vision.

MICHELIN Stealth Hybrid wiper blades incorporate five key design features to deliver superior performance, time after time:
1. Riveted smart hinge delivers optimum wipe performance by holding down each end of the wiper on the windscreen.
2. Smart Flex secondary system ensures better windscreen contact across the entire length of the wiper blade.
3. Spring-loaded technology provides enhanced responsiveness across the windscreen.
4. A durable cover protects the blade from ice, snow and road debris, helping to extend blade life.
5. EZ-LOK connector system means blades are quick and simple to install in minutes – so driver safety is never compromised.

Improve sales – and satisfaction
Specifying MICHELIN Stealth Hybrid wiper blades is a powerful opportunity for garages to maximise both sales and customer satisfaction.

As more and more OEMs move to hybrid blades, MICHELIN is the brand that consumers know and trust to deliver superior performance and quality. The sleek, modern styling of the Stealth Hybrid wiper blade appeals to consumers, making it a smart choice for customers and a more profitable opportunity for garages.

 

For more information call: 01206 808158

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DIAGNOSING AND FIXING FAULTS FIRST TIME AROUND

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DIAGNOSING AND FIXING FAULTS FIRST TIME AROUND


Dinos Christoforou takes us around his family-run garage business, ‘Spiros Motors’ in North West London.

Ex-F1 technician, Spiros Christoforou, opened his garage business in North West London 35 years ago, and has enjoyed steady growth ever since. “We have got contracts with HR Owen Sports Car, which means we get a lot of prestige sports cars coming through from the dealership” said Spiros’s son Dinos – who is also a master technician at the firm. “This includes Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati. We have our own USP of fast cars that we service on a regular basis”.

While some garages have been known to still use older diagnostics, coupled with the newer technologies coming into the market, technicians should be regularly updating their skills both in terms of equipment and training, according to Dinos. “It’s hard to stay up-to-date in this industry because everything is changing” he said. “If you don’t keep up then you will start falling behind and I think many garages find it difficult because they’re always trying to cut down their prices”, adding that his staff are fully up-to-speed with tooling, training and the technical know-how to repair these models correctly.

WORKSHOP LAYOUT
This was evident from the workshop layout, which has a new automatic tester lane (ATL) installed for MOT on the right hand side with five dedicated service ramps lined up on the left. The site also contains an engine room as well as a dedicated car park space outback, which Dinos notes, is the only independent to possess one in the Park Royal area. With a handful of garage networks operating in close proximity and JT Car Repairs next door, we were curious to find out if this has impacted business. Dinos said. “There are around eight to 10 local garages in this area but we’re all in different leagues with one another so there is no cross over or competition between us”.

DIAGNOSTICS
Being a diagnostic specialist for most car models, means the team is well equipped for whatever enters the ramp. For troubleshooting and detecting fault codes, Spiros technicians will use Launch UK diagnostics and for more complex issues, the Autologic or Bosch KTS tool is the preferred unit of choice. Being a Bosch Car Service member also has its perks, according to Dinos, which is noticeable in the foyer area where many Bosch training qualifications are framed and hanging on the walls. “The Bosch training is world class”, he said, “They provide us with training from diagnostics up to service and master level technician”, adding that himself and his uncle are the two qualified master technicians on site.

Workshop contains five service ramps

SERVICES
To say the garage only conducts MOT and general repairs would be an understatement as there are many other services within its remit including air conditioning, bodyshop repair and fitting AlloyGators, which we were lucky enough to see Dinos fit to a BMW Z3 fresh off the track. Explaining his reasons for offering this service, he said. “It started with my mother who had a Porsche Carrera. She kept hitting the kerb and had to change her tyres nearly every two to three months as a result. They should normally last up to 12,000 miles on that vehicle.” He adds. “We told her to get rid of the car because it’s costing thousands on tyres a year, but someone from the racing community suggested AlloyGators and we have been impressed with them ever since”.

However, after fitting AlloyGators for nearly 10 years now, the master technician has found a number of fitment errors among some tyre fitting centres. He elaborates. “I have found people have failure of alloys because they have gone to a tyre fitment centre, where they have pumped up the tyre, handed back the keys but haven’t gone back around them for the final fitment”. Dinos makes sure that every AlloyGator fitted has ‘sunk in’ properly by applying pressure with a rubber mallet around the wheel, once they’ve been trimmed and fitted accordingly.

Although there’s been discussions between Spiros and his son about opening a second garage, they have decided to put it on the back-burner for now due to the growing demand of vehicles entering its current site as Dinos points out. “The way our business operates, it’s very hard to open a second garage because me and my father are hands on. Every job that goes through the garage, goes through us so we will carry out the quality controls and road test the vehicles when jobs have been completed”. He concluded. “It’s difficult to expand for these reasons however, we want to continue providing that high level of service and be there for our customers”.

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ACQUISITIONS NEED PLANNING

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ACQUISITIONS NEED PLANNING


Takeovers are in fashion in the aftermarket, but you need to find a company that’s the right fit, writes Adam Bernstein

The question of how to grow a business is one that has perplexed many for generations, namely: organic growth or acquisitive growth? It makes no odds which route is taken, the end goal is the same – greater profitability.

Acquisitions seem to be in vogue for the aftermarket at the moment. You’ve probably already read in this issue that Canadian parts giant Uni-Select has acquired The Parts Alliance, which has itself been on the lookout for smaller factors to buy. GroupAuto’s parent company AAG has made numerous acquisitions in the past year, including FPS and LKQ’s attempted tie-up between ECP and Andrew Page has attracted the attention of the Competitions and Market’s Authority, for which we await the decision in November.

There’s nothing wrong with organic growth, it’s just that it takes time. And compared to setting up a new unit from scratch acquisition takes less time, resources and finance that many firms struggle to provide. So how should firms acquire? What are the issues to be aware of?

DUE DILIGENCE
Understanding what is being bought is key. Although acquirers will usually be able to obtain warranties (think guarantees) from shareholders, there is no substitute for extensively checking the detail of the transaction through “due diligence.” The process falls into three distinct areas – legal which will be handled by lawyers; financial and tax which will be dealt with by accountants; and commercial which falls to the acquirer. If any skeletons in the cupboard are identified, these can be turned into indemnities and, as such, the risk stays with the vendors.

But while due diligence is important, desktop research should be completed before any approach is made along with market and commercial due diligence. Research is much easier nowadays as so much information is available in the public domain through Companies House, online databases, the web, and other information gained discreetly through industry sources. But remember, financial information can be months out of date and cannot be relied upon to give an accurate view of a firm’s financial health.

Skimping here will mean the acquirer will have no idea about the veracity of what they are being told.

WORKPLACE CULTURE CLASH
Acquirers need to recognise that buying the assets of a firm is one thing, but businesses also come with staff already employed and they must get along with the acquirer’s own employees. There are countless examples where mergers and acquisitions have failed because of culture clash – Daimler and Chrysler, AOL and Time Warner, HP and Compaq.

Culture is something that should be looked at closely; compatibility is one of the key requirements. Inevitably there is a learning curve following acquisition, but many find that due diligence meetings usually indicate if the businesses can adapt. Others suggest looking at the top to board level for clues on possible culture issues.

TAKING PRECAUTIONS
Of course, some businesses are bought when they are in trouble and here the purchaser should be particularly cautious.

Firms in trouble often find themselves the target of creditors who can apply pressure; this must be considered when arriving at a valuation.

A question to ask is what is the reason for the decline? Is it the loss of a major client or a bad debt? Is the firm out of step with the market and unable to compete? Can the decline be reversed? Some buyers choose to wait until the target goes into a formal insolvency process before making an offer to the administrator or liquidator when the price the target can be acquired at should be considerably lower. But there is a warning – there will be no warranties and the acquisition will be on a ‘buyer beware basis’. Buying a business from an administrator is risky; their job is not to help the buyer but to realise the greatest possible value for the creditors.

It’s important to also look out for Crown debt arrears such as PAYE and VAT. If these exist a time to pay arrangement is crucial if a rescue is to be completed. But buying a failed firm may mean that existing customers may lack confidence in the business. Similarly, creditors who would have suffered due to the business failure – will be wary too.

ACQUISITION COST
Acquisitions involve significant costs and many are not insignificant. Purchasers should budget for the corporate finance finder’s fee, accountant’s costs, legal fees (legal drafting, due diligence and deal completion matters), insurance warranty payments and costs allied with any associated funding. These can be over 10% of the purchase price.

Also, buyers should not ignore property and any stamp duty that is payable. And just as importantly is the hidden cost of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 – TUPE – which crystallises if there is a staff restructure following the takeover. Employees involved in a business acquisition can sometimes have a significant level of protection under TUPE – which in practice means that dismissing employees following an acquisition can be restricted or costly. Acquirers also need to consider any changes that have to be made to accommodate staff with disability issues.

There’s also the threat of loss of business due to change of control, changing relationships and the possible loss of key staff following the takeover. But these can be managed by having close liaison with customers and offering staff revised employment contracts that come with incentives. Further, existing contracts and arrangements will need to be honoured once the former management leaves.

But there is one more expense that is harder to quantify – time. It is important to make sure that the acquisition doesn’t become a huge distraction and the underlying business is not neglected.

BOLD MOVE
An acquisition is not for the faint hearted – acquirers should consider if they are better off focusing energy on organic growth or proceed ahead by taking a larger risk with an acquisition.

The adage that “people buy people” applies to staff as much as it does to the seller and customer relationship. Ignoring and potential staffing and culture issue can do more damage than any over-valuation.

NOTABLE AFTERMARKET ACQUISITIONS

  • There have been thousands of takeovers in our sector over the years. Here are a few that sprung to mind:
  • Lookers PLC took the decision to sell FPS Distribution, BTN Turbo and Apec Braking to Alliance Automotive Group (AAG) in 2016.
  • American recycled parts firm LKQ Corporation acquired Euro Car Parts in 2011 after months of rumour and speculation around the aftermarket (much of it incorrect). More recently, LKQ has acquired Arleigh International, a large distributor of touring and leisure products.
  • In 1973 Burmah Oil acquired Quinton Hazell ltd from the man of the same name. Hazell didn’t take to working as part of a large corporation and took a stake in the Supra Group, where he started competing against his former company.
  • ZF and TRW came together in 2016, though Helmut Ernst, CEO of ZF was keen to stress to CAT that TRW as a brand was ‘an asset that would remain’.
  • Cash and carry chain Maccess was sold in 1999 in an MBO valued at £68m. It was a rare example of then-parent Finelist selling a company for profit. Finelist Group collapsed in 2001 while Maccess lasted until 2015 before it ran out of ‘time and customers’ according to the then owner Tetrosyl.

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TRANSFER WINDOW: NEW SUPPLIER DEALS

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TRANSFER WINDOW: NEW SUPPLIER DEALS


Fram coming to ECP

Transfer season sees clubs scouting for talent and players looking for a comfy life, aftermarket brands have also been swapping sides over the last month.

  • First of all, The Parts Alliance has announced a five-year partnership with the AA. The products will cover batteries, vehicle parts and consumables in a supply contract for five years. “We are delighted to be a business partner and supplier to the AA, one of Britain’s most trusted brands”. said Peter Sephton, Chief Executive of The Parts Alliance.
  • Meanwhile, Sogefi Filtration has signed an agreement with distribution giant Euro Car Parts, which will see the latter stock products under the Fram brand from the beginning of July. This will include the full range of light vehicle filters sold through ECP’s outlets in UK and Ireland. Nigel Duffield, Sales Director at Sogefi said: “The cooperation with Euro Car Parts is very promising and will surely contribute to further develop the presence of the brand throughout the country”.
  • The CAAR buying group has also made some signings, with oil brand Mannol now being stocked by the group’s members. The lubricant producer has had a good month, because in addition to the supply deal it also won two awards from separate German car magazines for it’s Combi Energy 5w30 Long Life oil. Andrej Gaikov from Mannol said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen by CAAR’s members to be stocked in their stores. I feel this is the start of a great partnership for both of us”.
  • The A1 buying group has introduced Warwickshire-based Compressortech into its approved suppliers list. The remanufacturer of A/C compressors can now be distribute its products across the chain’s members. Gary Stephenson, Business Development Manager for Compressortech said: “A1 is a significant and recognised buying group and our thermal cooling products will further complement their expanding product ranges.
    We look forward to working with the members.”

Posted in Batteries, Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, News, Retailer News, UncategorisedComments (0)

COULD YOU ENTER A FRANCHISE?

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COULD YOU ENTER A FRANCHISE?


‘Franchise’ is almost a dirty word in the aftermarket, but is there an opportunity that is being missed here? Mike Owen suggests not

Franchises come in all shapes and sizes from McDonalds to mopeds, a plethora of VMs and then the smaller offerings which, frankly, are little more than pyramid selling in disguise.

The first rule, and like Monty Pythons ‘Bruce’s sketch’ every other rule thereafter is check your chosen franchisor – it is not unknown for these companies to go down the tubes and, as with Rover, take many well-established franchisees with them to ‘Carey Street’ or at least leave you holding the baby.

Now, a good franchise relationship does two things, it gives an income stream to the franchisee and incremental sales to the franchisor – a relationship is born!

As with any relationship they need nurturing, can go wrong and often have a dominant partner.

There are two basic reasons for considering a franchise. The first is for volume; a recognised name that will bring customers to your door, the second, surprisingly, is business discipline – training and business systems aimed at making the franchisee more professional.

In our industry when we talk about ‘franchises’ the first thing to spring into anyone’s mind is a vehicle franchise and that involves crossing over to the dark side! Firstly, and contrary to opinion, are not generally available – it is well known that the old ‘territory’ system was overturned by the European Commission only to be reincarnated under ‘Areas of Influence’ which are not quite as rigid but come a pretty close second!

You will note that the old ‘family’ garage business has all but disappeared in favour of the ‘groups’ or Plc’s – this offers comfort to the franchisee that the company is correctly funded and under proper financial control – they are fed up with getting burned.

OPEN POINT
Now suppose you have the premises in the right area and it is an ‘open-point’ for a franchise worth having, you are prepared to build from the floor to meet the draconian ‘corporate identity’ standards and, having spent a couple of million and still have a few more millions to go, let’s talk turkey.

As you stand on the edge of the world and prepare to leap into the abyss of becoming a Dealer consider the Faustian degree of your decision – just how far are you getting into bed with the devil?

Before the ink is dry on the contract your life will change – do not expect to operate a franchise for profit; your life will become entirely dependent on ‘standards bonuses’. Back in the good-old days when you could expect 18-20% discount on your cars and up to 50% on parts, now you may squeak 5% on vehicles and 18-20% on parts – the problem is you will be expected to give it all away. Your purchase margin will be passed on to your customers.

Standards bonus cover all things from vehicle sales volumes to customer satisfaction indexes and from parts penetration to finance penetration – the number of cars you sell using the franchises finance offerings. Compulsory training will be charged for and your warranty account will be watched like a hawk. You will input your business information to be measured as part of the ‘Inter Firm Comparison’ and you will receive your data back compared with national, local, size related and upper quartile businesses across the country. Your franchise representatives, be they Sales, Aftersales or Business, will be in and out of your business like a fiddler’s elbow and your life will belong to them.

BONUS
But return to these standards bonuses – you will be told what they could (or should) be but at each inspection you will receive de-merits; how much they will be reduced by, this creates a very threatening relationship. The top brick on the chimney for the franchisors, in this case the manufacturers, book of measurements, has to be volume! I get this, they are dependent on volume of manufacture and long gone as are Red-Robo and the fields full of new vehicles covered in brambles of the 70s and 80s. For the franchisee – you, you will quickly find that operating on a zero-profit basis on the promise of standards bonus to turn your empire into a success you will do anything to hit volume; this is where self-registered vehicles come into your life.

Self-registration is where you take stock vehicles and register them just to hit bonus. The consequence is that you now have a registered new vehicle that is immediately depreciated and going steadily down each month – now trading for nothing becomes trading for a loss. Experience dictates that a phone call will happen at 16:00 on the last day of the month informing you to register 50 units! But, you shout, they’re not allowed to self- register; suffice it to say, there are ways and means…

Dealer management is not for the feint-hearted, more those with a degree in self-deception but please don’t think it can’t be done; it can and is. The art is in never stop negotiating with your franchise, never accept you’re on the best terms, deals are done all over and you’ll need to be cautious!

So there you are, and all that just to have a new car five or six times a year and be taxed on it by HMRC – are you mad?

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AUTOMECHANIKA IN REVIEW

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AUTOMECHANIKA IN REVIEW


For us at the magazine, it is funny to think that 2017 was only the second time Automechanika has taken place at the NEC, such is the amount that we have written and speculated about it. Nonetheless, this is only the second time the show has happened here, and it seems much of the aftermarket holds an opinion about it.

For me, the proceedings started the day before the event as SMMT had invited a handful of journalists to dinner at a nearby country pile to talk about the show, the aftermarket and the motor industry in general. One interesting stat that Chief Exec Mike Hawes raised was that the British public now spend more online on car accessories than they do on cosmetics. I haven’t been able to verify this yet, and I suspect it includes replacement tyres and servicing booked online, but even so it goes to show that the new generation of motorists are less willing to do things the old way. A point to ponder perhaps.

After the show was opened, complete with ribbon cutting and the traditional comedy big scissors (I wonder where they come from?) the show got underway and we grab show organiser Simon Albert for a few words. As the show had only just opened, he didn’t have much to tell us that we didn’t already know, such as the longer opening hours, increase in aisle space etc. However, he did confirm his hit list of companies that he’d like to see attending in the future and, of most significance to us, confirmed that the show would return next year.

On the Valeo stand

This surprised me a little, as I’d assumed that the show would become biennial in the years that the Frankfurt show was not held. However, I was keen to get going as my appointment book was full and I was running late before I had even started.

The first visit took me across Hall 19 and into Hall 20 where I could have a quick look at some of the stands as I scurried past. Liqui Moly and Auto Repar had particularly amazing looking stands. Schaeffler had used a space right next to the main entrance to build a gleaming white stage where cutaway versions of various products had been mounted on plinths for the reps to demonstrate. Valeo meanwhile, had approached the concept of having a stand in a different way, as it had simply brought a huge truck and trailer kitted out with demonstration models of various things into the hall.

MEANDERING
I won’t trouble you with the details of every meeting I had or what everyone said, except that on the first day a number of stands reported that footfall seemed a little low, which could be down to appalling weather that day as well as a crash blocking one of the motorways near the NEC that may have put some off attending. I should add that if the attendance was low on the first day, I didn’t notice it. From my point of view, Hall 19, where I spent the bulk of the time, seemed annoyingly busy with meandering people with a tendency to stop in front of me filling the aisles.

It was pleasing to see that many exhibitors had brought in things other than their products to keep people amused. Sales-i brought an Out Run arcade machine for example (a game that I spent too much time on in my youth). Denso brought a VR racing car simulator, which I quite fancied trying out, but decided not to as the racing driver Rebecca Jackson was looking on, and I had no wish to humiliate myself. Other stands brought various cars and bikes from series that they sponsor as well as the usual show novelties.

Holding an event after the show is always a risk, because while there will be a ready supply of people in the industry who are in the same place, there is no telling that they will be in the mood to go somewhere else after spending a day at the show. Even if they do, there is every chance that someone else has invited them first. With this in mind, I was curious to see how many people went to an event held by Motaquip at Warwick Castle on the first night. The answer as it turned out was a lot of people as the event was full. It was one of the more fun events that we’ve been to, with two apparently empty suits of armour jumping off the wall and alarming diners by staging a battle between the tables.

STAGES
Back at the show the following day I would have liked to have had more time to attend some of the industry and technical seminars that were taking place on a number of stages across the halls. Big names from the world of diagnostics including Frank Massey and James Dillon had been brought in as a lure to get technicians to the show (which by all accounts worked) while the heads of the garage associations talked about the various threats and opportunities du jour in the aftermarket. I did manage to get over to hear the winner of the Garage of the Year announced, which turned out to be Motorserv UK, which readers who have been paying close attention might recall we visited this time last year.

One notable absence from the show was TMD Friction (who are on record saying that they have ‘no plans’ to exhibit). However, the company did rent a plaza suite just outside of the main halls to hold a Pagid Live event in association with Euro Car Parts where a number of garage owners and technicians (the majority of whom had been brought down for the event) who, after a day at the show spend a couple of hours enjoying presentations on the benefits of the Pagid Expert programme and on ECPs garage scheme (see Hot Story).

If your reason for visiting the show was to find new products, you wouldn’t have been disappointed. Delphi brought a new bit of diagnostic kit for high- pressure injectors, European Exhaust and Catalyst introduced a 6-in-1 fuel system cleaner at the show and in a similar vein, Forté launched a 4-in-1 cleaning machine. Essentra Components launched something called a ‘High Tech Fluid Absorption Plug’ and I’m sure there were many other things never before seen at the event.

Throughout the show, I spent most of my time in the three aftermarket halls, but on the final day I had a meeting with Stericycle (a company that manages recalls for the VMs) and so I spent a while exploring the area dedicated to the automotive supply chain. It was markedly quieter than the aftermarket halls, although it should be noted that while the supply chain market as a whole is huge and worth big money, the number of buyers within it is relatively small, and stands dealing with VM services were of little interest to technicians, so it might be unfair to judge its success on the amount of feet in the room alone.

‘Billy’ character on Bosch stand

However, the highlight of the show for me came late in the afternoon on the final day when Helen Watkins from Bosch, who was manning the Extra stand, was accosted by a strange small man who kept offering her some of his special ‘home made’ sweets, much to the amusement of onlookers – apparently he’d been coming on the stand and doing this at various points throughout the show. However, just when Helen couldn’t stand the embarrassment anymore, the fellow took off what turned out to be a wig and false teeth to reveal himself as a well known customer of the firm. Apparently, his alter-ego ‘Billy No-Mates’ is a character that he regularly performs for some of his unsuspecting suppliers, and it was much to the amusement of the crowd that had built up.

It was almost time for us to leave in order to high-tail it back to London while there was still time to vote (remember that?) One point that is inescapable is the topic of the show frequency. As a conservative guess, I reckon I spoke to 40 company bosses during the show and the overwhelming majority said that they thought the show should run once every two years, preferably during the non- Frankfurt years in order to keep costs reasonable and keep the momentum of the show. From the point of view of the whole CAT team, we could have happily stayed there for a month if we could – there were so many people to see. However, I’m always curious to know the experience of our readers. Did you go? Were you exhibiting? What were the highlights, and what would you have liked to have seen? Give me a shout at greg.whitaker@haymarket.com.

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THE PARTS ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES AA PARTNERSHIP

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THE PARTS ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES AA PARTNERSHIP


The Parts Alliance has announced a five year partnership with the AA. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The group will now supply batteries, vehicle parts and consumables to one of the UK’s largest vehicle breakdown service firms over the next five years.

Speaking of the partnership,  Sarah Millward, Commercial Director Road Operations at the AA, said: “Both sides have been working diligently to ensure the varied and special requirements of Britain’s largest breakdown organisation can be met”. She continued. “The Parts Alliance has shown it has the footprint and market leading systems to support our needs, while also providing access to a wide ranging supply of quality parts, which is critical in enabling us to maintain our service to our members.”

“The length of this contract with the AA is testament to our partnership to date and is a major business win for our group” said Mike Curry, The Parts Alliance National Accounts Sales Director:  “We are supplying the AA with premium quality brands from stock to provide an all makes parts programme, our market leading catalogue Allicat identifies the correct vehicle fitment required and has the lowest product returns rate within our industry which helps reduce breakdown repair times”.

Peter Sephton, Chief Executive of The Parts Alliance, concluded: “We are delighted to be a business partner and supplier to the AA, one of Britain’s most trusted brands. “As with all our customers, we want to go that extra mile to ensure we deliver the right level of support, quality parts, systems and innovation to meet their needs. Allicat and our PartVend are two examples of how we can do this.

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GSF, BBC SUPERFACTORS AND A1 ADD LOCATIONS

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GSF, BBC SUPERFACTORS AND A1 ADD LOCATIONS


New A1 store in Leicester

Three chains have added to their network. GSF has opened a new branch to the north of Bristol, which will be its third outlet in that city. The new location is located in the Aztec business part, near a junction of the M5.

The drive to encourage trade customers to try the new branch has been headed by GSF’s Business Development Manager Leighton Phillips, who has been visiting local independent garages in the weeks running up the opening. The company says that the whole project, from inception to opening day, was completed in just eight weeks.

“We’ve got an experienced team in place who know Bristol well,” said Simon McMullen, Regional Director at GSF Car Parts. “We’re sure there’s even more potential for us around the area and we’ve been excited by the enthusiastic response already.”
Parts Alliance-owned BBC Superfactors has moved premises, just a year after first opening in Preston.

The new building boasts double the footprint at 10,000 square feet and has a full mezzanine too, boosting storage capacity to around “We needed space for tyres,”
explained Managing Director Gary Shulman. “We’re importing containers of tyres and the new unit has the facility to handle these bulk deliveries.”

Meanwhile, A1 Motor Stores has welcomed a new branch opened by a member. Mohammed Y Suleman with the help of various family members has opened an accessory shop in Leicester, which is the second branch owned by Suleman. A factoring service to the trade has led the team to buy their first parts van. Speaking of his decision to join A1, Suleman said: “The branding attracted me. The shop looks more professional with the A1 Motor Stores signage outside, and shows you are part of a bigger thing”.

Posted in Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Steering & Suspension, Tools, UncategorisedComments (0)

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