Tag Archive | "Supply chain"

AVOIDING THE BATTERY BLUES THIS WINTER

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AVOIDING THE BATTERY BLUES THIS WINTER


As the season of flat batteries creeps in, how are suppliers preparing garages this winter? CAT Reporter Daniel Moore finds out.

Battery labelling at Yuasa factory

Like all of the aftermarket, we wait in joyful expectation of a foggy and icy winter, but how are battery companies preparing for the oncoming season?

MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
The idea is of course to recommend a replacement before it fails to start the car, thus eliminating some of the seasonal peaks and troughs in battery sales.

Trying to achieve a similar theory but with a slightly different end goal in mind, Swedish battery charger firm CTEK has launched a campaign to encourage motorists to prolong the life of the battery by regularly giving it a maintenance charge (by using one of the firm’s switching ‘smart’ chargers of course). A new consumer product called ‘Time to Go’ has removed most of the process indicators on the front panel, instead simply telling the motorist how long it will be until the battery is charged. The product ties in with a Bluetooth dongle and smartphone app called ‘battery sense’, that gives the motorist real-time info about the state of health of their batteries – this could be particularly useful on vehicles that are rarely used over the winter such as classic cars or motorhomes. Sten Hammargren, Consumer Business Unit Manager at CTEK, said “It’s a reflection of the demands that today’s consumer has for household tools and accessories that can keep them in the picture – we’ve seen it with other household goods such as washing machines and tumble dryers and now you can have this type of information from your battery charger.”

TESTING TIMES
Of course most consumers will prefer the garage to check the state of health of their battery and Bosch Car Service member garage Spiros Motors, is one workshop that has followed suit by carrying out free of charge battery checks on every vehicle it sees. Dinos Christoforou, Master Technician at Spiros Motors, expands: “Every single service for any vehicle coming in, it’s one of the main checks that we do”, highlighting the tools used for the job, he said, “We use Bosch Bat121 Electronic Tester that measures the amperage of the battery. notifies us of how much amperage is in the battery before it needs to be charged up”, adding that a ticket print out is then issued from the machine. You might ask what the point of a printout is if the machine has it on the display, well, this information is then relayed back to the customer, complete with the printout as proof that the check has been carried out as described and notifying them of the steps taken before receiving the keys back to their vehicle.

To avoid breakdowns, Steve Hudson, Head of Business Development at Behr Hella Services, says garages should consistently advise customers to maintain their battery all year around no matter how much or little the vehicle is used. “Battery related issues remain the most common cause of breakdown, whatever the season, battery health should be a priority”, notes Hudson. “Technicians should be recommending that customers that use their vehicles infrequently or make only short journeys, should charge the battery on a regular basis, which will substantially reduce the risk of electrical related breakdown”. Lee Quinney, Country Manager for Banner Batteries GB, echoes Hudson’s sentiment suggesting ongoing training should be a number one priority of any garage, particularly with the eclectic range battery technologies flooding the market. “Giving the garages the training and support that is needed has never been more important, particularly as specifying the wrong start-stop battery for a vehicle can have serious consequences”, he replied.

BATTERY LOOK-UP TOOLS
When the time for battery replacement comes, a number of manufacturers have introduced online applications allowing workshops, suppliers and the like to source their models easily. Ecobat Technologies (formerly Manbat) is a prime example with its EBT Battery Finder that has helped extend its distribution network to many independents nationwide. “Users simply need to enter the registration number of the vehicle in the search box and the site will use a sophisticated VRM database to locate the correct car and provide access to its vehicle- specific details”, notes Paul Payne, Sales Director at Ecobat Technologies. “This information naturally includes the exact specification of the battery for which it is designed, and therefore provides an absolute assurance the battery is the precise replacement the VM has specified for that model”.

With the extensive amount of gadgets and promotions on offer, workshops and retailers can be rest assured that by investing in some of these wares and services will enable them to avoid those battery blues this winter while picking up some extra revenue along the way.

CHARGING UP FOR THE FUTURE
While technology in vehicles becomes increasingly complex, we were interested to find out how this could impact the battery market in the years to come. Although we have touched on the aforementioned start-stop technology, it is the now and future as battery maker DBS Energy’s MD Henry James, points out, “The market in automotive batteries is moving towards ‘All Electric’, but the current future is in stop-start technology, which is having a positive outcome on sales of AGM batteries due to larger amounts of stop-start cars being on our roads”, he said. “There has already been a huge swing to sealed maintenance free flooded batteries also, which has already started to take place in the commercial vehicle sector too.”

Ecobat’s Sales Director Paul Payne concurs and expands. “In the short to medium term, the replacement market will remain dominated by the 12-volt battery. Clearly AGM sales will increase and [traditional] batteries gradually fall back, but any significant growth outside this core sector, is still several years in the future.”

Yuasa’s James Douglas says before investing in future wares, workshops must first identify and understand the different setups for each model on the market, something that is still a little unclear among some garages. He said, “The key issues is there hasn’t been a massive volume of start-stop cars going through garages needing their battery replaced, it’s only now that it’s beginning to increase. We are still pushing that message and explaining to garages that it’s a completely different setup. If a car has EFB battery then it needs to be replaced with EFB and likewise with AGM as opposed to a conventional one.”

Whatever the weather, it looks like there is still good business in battery services for a while yet.

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DECEMBER DEBUT FOR AUTOMECHANIKA SHANGHAI

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DECEMBER DEBUT FOR AUTOMECHANIKA SHANGHAI


PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF AUTOMECHANIKA SHANGHAI

It’s beyond doubt that Asia’s automobile industry has been developing at a rapid pace in recent years. From 2009 to 2016, China alone was the world’s largest car manufacturer and benefitted greatly from having the biggest sales market. As a result, the country rose to become the world’s top producer and exporter of tyres, with production volume climbing to 150 million in 2016. Not only that, but the global tyre demand is still rising too, with the market projected to reach 2.5 billion units by 2022.

Tyres are also one of the key components in the automotive sector, and are indispensable throughout the entire automotive value chain. With tyres and their many associated products playing such an invaluable role in the continued growth of the automotive industry both domestically and globally, visitors to this year’s edition of Automechanika Shanghai can expect to find the most comprehensive range of products, innovations and news to cover the entire spectrum of the tyre sector. The fair will take place from 29 November – 2 December at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre, Shanghai, where over 130,000 visitors will meet with an estimated 6,000 exhibitors.

For the first time this year, Automechanika will welcome the brand new REIFEN Zone – a co-located area dedicated entirely to products for tyres, wheels and rims, as well as for the repair, management, sales and storage of tyres. As the world’s leading fair for the tyre industry, REIFEN has been a consistently important meeting place since its first ever edition back in 1960 in Germany.

The addition of the REIFEN Zone to Automechanika Shanghai not only represents the tightening relationship between the tyre and aftermarket service segments, but also perfectly complements the existing spectrum of products available at the fair. The move will also help create new opportunities to the fair’s participants, exhibitors and visitors. Tyre dealers have the opportunity to offer even more automotive services, and car dealers and workshops looking to expand on their range of tyre partners.

At the zone, global and domestic prestigious tyre makers will showcase their latest products, designs and materials. To name a few, these include the likes of Linglong, one of the top 20 global tyre manufacturers, as well as Fangxing Rubber, who will feature various kinds of truck and bus radial tyres, passenger car radial tyres and off-road tyres at its booth.

Ms Fiona Chiew, Deputy General Manager of Messe Frankfurt (Shanghai) Co Ltd, says that no stone will be left unturned when it comes to highlighting the tyre sector at this year’s edition of Automechanika Shanghai: “This area of the automotive world is vital to the continued growth of the auto industry in Asia. No matter what technological improvements are made to cars, and regardless of industry trends, there will always be a demand for tyres and their related products. With that in mind, we expect the REIFEN Zone to be a huge success this year, because the industry has been calling out for it.”

Tyre industry’s strong relationship with OE and aftermarket sector reflected throughout show halls

The entirety of Automechanika’s 340,000 sqm show will also be sprinkled with the very latest tyre-related products and services from the entire supply chain. With the increasing demands of tyre services at workshops and service stations, the likes of wheel balancers and aligners, tyre changers, tyre inflators and a range of tyre repair tools can be found in the fair’s Repair & Maintenance sector, while wheels and rims, tyre difficulty relief devices, emergency tyre safety devices and repair kits, tyre lubricants and cleaners, etc. can be found at the Accessories & Customising sector. The likes of tyre pressure monitoring solutions, wheel bearings and hubs, and tyre bolts can be found at the fair’s Parts and Components sector.

For instance, exhibiting company Yingkou Dali Automobile Maintenance Equipment, a Chinese manufacturer of tyre changers, will demonstrate its ‘G-900 Pneumatic Swing Arm Centre Locking System’ with its newest BQC automatic demounting head. Elsewhere, Russia-based Techno Vector will display its 3D four-wheel aligner with its ‘Wide Angle’ technology, which is said to allow for a complete range of working heights of the lift. Tyreplus, Michelin’s Asian car maintenance service branch, will demonstrate a comprehensive range of replacement services using Michelin products during the fair. Meanwhile, Continental Automotive will show its advanced tyre pressure monitoring solutions. The company says that by integrating these functions with the chassis network, the dynamic control of driving is significantly improved. US-based ITW Performance Polymer will demonstrate its ‘Safety Spair’ tyre repair and inflation kit, which enables tyre inflation and repair times of four and seven minutes, respectively.

For more information about the show, please visit www.automechanika-shanghai.com or contact Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd, +852 2802 7728 auto@hongkong.messefrankfurt.com

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STAGE IS SET FOR AUTOMECHANIKA SHANGHAI

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STAGE IS SET FOR AUTOMECHANIKA SHANGHAI


PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF AUTOMECHANIKA SHANGHAI

Asia’s automotive industry is undergoing rapid technological changes, thanks to the world’s ever-growing consumer demand for new energy vehicles, faster workshop speeds, increased customisation options and improved in-car technologies. Many of the region’s aftermarket enterprises are subsequently looking for a more technological edge, more environmentally friendly products and processes, and superior repair and management standards.

This opportunity is already being brought to life at Automechanika Shanghai, Asia’s largest trade fair dedicated to the global automotive service industry. This year, the fair will welcome around 6,000 exhibitors and 130,000 visitors, and is also expected to house some of the latest advancements from both the global and domestic automotive industries.

Take for example Astrace, a Chinese glass window film and paint developer which has various brands within the aftermarket sector. The company is exhibiting for the first time at Automechanika Shanghai 2017, with the goal of expanding into some of Asia’s most promising regions.

Mr Kris Yang, Manager of International Business at Astrace, explains how Asia has a huge role to play in the sector’s future growth: “Our operations are already very well established in China, and like many other players in the aftermarket sector, we’re looking to broaden our horizons to the likes of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. These regions are all experiencing a growing presence in the sector, and with the help of Automechanika Shanghai we’re hoping to capitalise on this growth.”

“Asia’s aftermarket industry, and its film sector in particular, is experiencing more and more developments in the likes of heat blocking, UV protection, reflectivity and safety. What’s more, the industry is looking to take these innovations a step further by adding even more value for consumers. This includes the likes of films which can harvest energy to power cars, and intelligent glass displays which can display information to passengers, for instance.” Mr Yang added.

Similarly, fellow exhibiting business KYB, a shock absorber manufacturer, says that the Asian market, and China in particular, is constantly demanding a higher level of technical products and expertise. “Thanks to the growing consumer need for smarter vehicles and electric cars, China is looking to continually grow in terms of design, research, development and component manufacturing,” says Mr Lijun Fu, Deputy General Manager of Marketing at KYB Trading (Shanghai).

Explaining how this can be a big opportunity for exhibitors at the fair, Mr Fu added: “For us players in the aftermarket sector, this is good news because it boosts and diversifies the demand for parts, components, repair and maintenance. Thanks to this demand, we’re exploring more advanced technologies. Our electronic automobile suspension system, for example, can lower a car’s body when it stops, and lift it up again when the engine starts. It can also adjust the suspension system based on road conditions – which can even be done through in-car control and mobile apps.”

Another company looking to take advantage of this trend is adhesives business Henkel, who says that Asia’s growing numbers in terms of car sales and ownership is also an attractive prospect for the sector. “Compared to the overseas market, the growth momentum in the Asian auto industry appears to be more obvious, with car ownership in China alone surpassing 200 million in March 2017,” says Mr Shaohua Fang, APAC Vehicle Repair & Maintenance Business Director for Henkel.

“Thanks to this, as well as the growing expectation for higher quality and improved service, the aftermarket sector in the region expects a 30% year-on-year growth in the coming years, becoming a trillion dollar industry by end of 2018,” Mr Fang added. He expressed how Automechanika Shanghai is an “ideal platform” for businesses to keep abreast of these trends and to gain stronger positions in the region.

Industry players look to magnify environmental awareness

The shift towards new energy and improved service in Asia’s auto industry is also part of a bigger market trend in environmental awareness. With new energy vehicles in China expected to represent at least one fifth of car sales by 2025, a growing number of industry sectors are looking to improve their carbon footprint – including many key players in the aftermarket business.

Eneos, a Japanese oil and lubricant manufacturer, says Asia’s role in providing a more sustainable industry is immeasurable. “In terms of automotive lubricants, things like pollution control and low carbon emissions are some of the key development trends in what is such a prosperous region,” says Mr Yukiyoshi Takahashi, Director & President at the JX Nippon Oil & Energy brand by Eneos.

The company says that consequently, regulations on exhaust emissions are expected to become even stricter in the region, along with increased requirements on environmental protection. Many exhibitors at the fair are already adapting to this shift in focus for the industry.

“ENEOS has been committed to introducing an environmentally friendly and low viscosity ‘0W-20’ motor oil, which can increase performance by 2% – 3%. For a car driving 50,000 km per year, this can save around RMB 1,000 in fuel costs,” says Mr Takahashi.

“It also greatly reduces engine friction, so that the engine can maintain a stable and efficient movement. This helps reduce the risk of engine failure and prolong the repair period. We firmly believe that these types of products, which offer both high quality and fuel efficiency, will draw more and more attention to environmental awareness at Automechanika Shanghai this year.”

Keeping in line with exhibitors looking to showcase their sustainability credentials is coating supplier Oerlikon Balzers. The company says its coating technologies on display during the course of Automechanika Shanghai can help improve energy consumption levels and the overall performance of vehicles, as well as reduce wear and friction for parts. Visitors to the fair can witness a range of Oerlikon’s new coating solutions for ABS and ESP systems, which assist in reducing environmental impact.

Ms Fiona Chiew, Deputy General Manager of Messe Frankfurt (Shanghai) Co Ltd, says this aspect of the automotive sector has become one of the most important parts of the fair in recent years. “It’s exciting to see so many of our exhibitors looking to promote their work in creating a greener industry, particularly considering the growing environmental concerns in Asia. When these businesses are developing more and more technological advancements for the automotive sector, it’s important that they’re doing it in a responsible way.”

Automechanika Shanghai will take place from 29 November – 2 December at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. With over 130,000 visitors and 6,000 exhibitors, this year will see the fair expanded to 330,000sqm. A new REIFEN zone will showcase the very latest tyre, wheel and rim products, while upgrades to the E-mobility & Infrastructure zone will see an even stronger focus on electronics, systems, and future solutions.

A number of key industry players, including Autoyong, ADAYO, Astrace, CARZONE, Eneos, Fangxing Rubber, Fleetguard, Fuchs, Henkel, Huitian, Isuzu, Linglong, NEXTEV, SINOTRUK, TEN-D Energies and Zhengao Auto will participate at the fair for the first time. Meanwhile, exhibitors returning to the show include the likes of ACDelco, Asia-Pacific Electrical, BAIC, BASF, Bullsone, China Changan, Continental Automotive, ContiTech, CRRC, Cummins, Dayco, DENSO, Interstate Batteries, Launch, MA-FRA, Mahle, MANN+HUMMEL, Mobiletron, MOTUL, SATA, Schaeffler, SINOTRUK, SK, Snap-on, SONAX, Valeo, Valvoline, VIE and ZF.

For more information about the show, please visit www.automechanika-shanghai.com or contact Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd, +852 2802 7728 / auto@hongkong.messefrankfurt.com .

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DONE DEAL: SUPPLIERS SECURE LOCATIONS

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DONE DEAL: SUPPLIERS SECURE LOCATIONS


Three aftermarket firms have added to their networks.

■ Factor chain Euro Car Parts has agreed a ten-year lease for its new 20,700 sq ft warehouse, situated at the Cross Green Industrial Estate in Leeds. The location overlooks Pontefract Lane (A3), providing connections to the East Leeds Link Road and direct access to Junction 45 off the M1.

“We are pleased to have secured Euro Car Parts as a tenant for this highly prominent scheme”, said Mike Baugh, Senior Director of Industrial Agency at CBRE Leeds, “Solvgrin [the site developer] has constructed a very attractive unit at this gateway to Leeds”, adding that the organisation will construct a further 6,000 sq ft industrial unit adjacent to the supplier’s facility.

■ Tyre brand Michelin has invested £10m for its logistics operation in Stoke-on-Trent, with the opening of a new distribution centre in July. The upgrade also includes a new distribution centre for ATS Euromaster – where both units will store and deliver up to five million tyres between them per annum. The two sites combined have doubled its logistics team to around 150 staff in order to satisfy this growing demand.

Richard Whitehurst, Service to Customer Manager at Michelin Tyre, said. “The transformation of our logistics operation will allow us to improve service and ensure greater product availability”. In addition to this, the firm is stepping up manufacturing capacity at its Campbell Road headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent by launching another tyre production facility. The warehouse will open at the end of November allowing the manufacturer to produce up to 1,100 tyres a day.

■ Meanwhile,Ecobat Technologies has moved to a 15,000 sq ft premises in Bristol. “We needed to move to a property that will allow the business to continue to develop and provide support for our customers” concluded a statement from the firm.

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GERMAN VMs IN CARTEL ALLEGATIONS

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GERMAN VMs IN CARTEL ALLEGATIONS


The European Commission is to investigate several German VMs including BMW, Porsche, Daimler and VAG group over claims that the brands formed a ‘cartel’ to fix the price of a number of components from suppliers – including parts relating to the emissions systems.

An interesting detail is the allegation that the VMs colluded to deliberately make AdBlue tanks to be small in size, although it is not yet clear if there could be any competitive advantage in this detail as the effectiveness of the system is not affected by the size of the tank.

VW has confirmed that it has held a board meeting about the issue, but has declined to give any further details.
The OE parts industry has been hit with a number of cartel fines in recent years, with some bearing and A/C hardware manufacturers admitting their part.

Business magazine, Forbes has speculated that the latest scandal could turn into a ‘rat out race’ between VMs, as each might want to become a whistle-blower in order to escape the largest fine. This is backed up by cartel meeting minutes, apparently seen by Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper which suggested that Daimler may have been cooperating with the authorities since 2014.

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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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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.”

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THE NORTH AND SOUTH DIVIDE

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THE NORTH AND SOUTH DIVIDE


Simon McMullen takes us around GSF’s new Bristol North branch.

A number of factor chains have expanded their networks recently. One in particular was GSF’s Bristol North branch, which opened three months ago. We decided to drop by the firm’s latest addition to see how business has taken off since the launch.

The first thing you need to know about Bristol North is that it is the third branch in that city, with the other two known as South and Central respectively. However, these branches are not a house divided, but that the three branches function effectively as one location and with a single manager, but are able to put in to reach wider across the city than would be possible from one location.

In terms of logistics, Bristol South is the regional hub, supplying North and Central as well as various branches across West England and South Wales with stock. Area Manager Mark Donovan notes that the system has been designed so stock is quickly replenished across the business. “Bristol North is supported by the two other locations so they can keep what we can’t keep. We have an hourly van going backwards and forwards to bring stock to and from other sites”.

Inside, the reception looks like a modern car accessory shop, rather than a trade factor’s satellite store with a variety of car care products for retail customers. The sales and front-of-house team appeared polite and busy while they dealt with customer queries both face-to-face and over the phone. “Both the independent motor trade and national accounts business proved very successful within the first six to seven Weeks of opening” explained Simon McMullen, Regional Sales Director, who also joined us on our visit. “We mainly opened this branch for logistical purposes as we found there was a big avenue of customers we could service in the area” he said, adding that the M5 motorway access has helped facilitate this.

DELIVERIES
The store delivers within a 15-mile radius across its network of delivery vans and is looking to add motorcycles to the fleet.

WAREHOUSE LAYOUT
Situated at the Aztec Business Park, the new 9,000sq ft. branch employs 14 staff and includes a mezzanine floor, stocking a range of fast selling lines. Braking and service items are a few of many wares occupying the upstairs space, supplied by reputable brands including Valeo, Bosch and braking brand TRW. The ground floor is home to LuK clutches, Banner Batteries as well as exhaust silencers hanging up neatly in single file.

With bulks of stock being delivered to and from its neighbouring sites, we were keen to find out how the firm keeps track of purchases and customer orders. “We have our in-house system called EDP, a tool for stock management and sales,” McMullen replied. “This allows us to go back to our stock hubs in Birmingham. If you have an item that doesn’t sell in a recognised period of time, EDP recognises it and withdraws the product from the branch in question, bringing it back to the central branch where it is distributed nationally”. Staff working the night shift can expect an overnight delivery from GSF’s Birmingham hub, followed by three more deliveries via its regional distribution centre throughout the day. To take on this task, the team receive enrolment and ongoing training to control stock entering and leaving the premises.

SERVICES AND TRAINING
Similar to the Snap-on tool van concept, McMullen highlights that GSF’s kitted out tool vans have proved a hit in this area where staff will travel to local businesses and demonstrate their latest offerings to garages, while picking up leads for MOT bays, four post lifts and diagnostic equipment. “We treat all our customers as people and not account numbers”, said McMullen. “It is important that we always try to build positive and long-term relationships with them”.

Reflecting on his employees progress so far, McMullen, said. “I’m very proud of the guys and what we have achieved here. We spent countless hours painting, decorating and putting stock away before the launch of this store. It’s been a general team effort and I can’t thank everyone enough”. Both McMullen and Donovan are now aiming to bring Bristol North up to the same success of its brother and sister sites and is considering to acquire a fourth store in the city. The branch will continue rolling out new product lines as it continues to grow within the GSF group. We look forward to catching up with the team and potentially visiting another Bristol store in the near future.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer NewsComments (0)

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.

Posted in Accessories, All Makes, Batteries, Belts, Braking, Car Care, CAT Features, Catalytic Converters, Clutches, Cooling, Exhausts, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, General, Japanese - Korean - American, Japanese Parts, Lighting, News, Retailer News, Seals & Gaskets, Sensors, Shock Absorbers, Spark Plugs, Starters and Alternators, Steering & Suspension, Styling, Tools, Wheelhubs & Flanges, WipersComments (0)

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