Tag Archive | "UAN"


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There’s a new broom sweeping through Rotherham retail outlet Leisureways – both literally and metaphorically – as new owner David Clarke is having a clearout.

When we arrived to have a look around, a large stock cleanse was in its final stages. Already, lots of old references had been packed up and sent back to suppliers. As we toured the stockroom, which was busy undergoing a complete reprofile, Clarke said: “One rep who came in today said: ‘David, the value of this stock is exactly nothing but as a gesture of goodwill we’ll give you £250.’”

“Everyone who has been here has seen what is potentially a very good customer,” he added, noting that so far he’d had nothing but support and goodwill from the various suppliers who have presumably sensed that the 60 year old family business has been given a rare opportunity for growth.

Previously a member of the A1 Motor Stores group, the shop is now part of UAN, along with the rest of David Clarke’s Chesterfield-based Autosupplies Group. However, he has been careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, acknowledging that local affection for certain brands is very strong. “I’ve been learning here as well” he said.


“I was just about to get rid of Millers Oils when the lad rang up with £700 worth of orders. He came and saw me in Chesterfield where I told him that I owed him an apology for nearly booting his stock out! I’ve done a U-turn and now you’ll see a lot of Millers’ stock in here,” Clarke declared.


As with many family businesses, Leisureways in Rotherham can trace its roots through multiple businesses operating under different names and over various sites across the decades. Originally called Rotherham Rebore, the business was later expanded to offer car parts for the trade and the DIY motorist, as well as a range of camping and sporting goods (hence the name Leisureways).

As legend has it, a very young Seb Coe is said to have bought his first pair of trainers at Leisureways, and to have been so impressed with the service that he agreed to open a bright and airy new showroom for the firm shortly after breaking the world 800m record in 1981.

The current site was developed from an old BT building in the 1990s and sits on a plot we estimate to be around 40,000 sq ft, though various tennant businesses, including a garage, a takeaway and a therapy room, are based on the same site.

Through all the changes, the Hinchcliffe family has remained an integral part of the operation. Brothers Ron and Trevor Hinchcliffe have been at the helm for decades, with various family members helping them along the way. So it’s only natural that when the time came for them to retire and sell up, they were keen for the business to continue running, rather than see the site being snapped up by a developer.


Which is where David Clarke, owner of Chesterfield-based Autosupplies Group came in. In point of fact he had been working behind the scenes with the Hinchcliffes for over a year before the deeds were finally exchanged. Even on the day of our visit, which was a week or so after the deal had been completed, both Hinchcliffe brothers were on site to assist with the handover.

But just because there is bonhomie with the previous management doesn’t mean it’s business as usual at the retailer. As someone who has spent his working life selling hard parts and body shop consumables to the trade, Clarke saw little future in trying to sell fringe products like running shoes and squash racquets to the public. Instead, his plan is to drastically improve the firm’s trade factor proposition.

“At the moment, turnover is around 90 percent retail and ten percent trade,” he said. “In 18 months’ time I expect those numbers to be turned around.” That doesn’t mean that the firm is going to reduce its retail space; the recent addition of several new stock lines and the replacement of the sports gear with displays of Bosch goods and Sealey tools suggests the opposite is true.

Rather, a radical overhaul of the firm’s offering to garages is currently underway. Once new racking is installed (some of which was being brought in as we spoke) and filled with new stock, the push to all garages in the triangle between Rotherham, Sheffield and Barnsley can begin. A room currently used as a sort of computer graveyard has been earmarked as a dedicated call centre and Clarke’s project manager Allan Dannatt is on site to help get things running smoothly. The number of vans operating out of the branch has already been increased from one to three, and when we mention that a building of the size could run, say 15 vans, Clarke said without hesitation: “Yes, I think that’s about right.”

The site will go some way to helping Autosupplies achieve its goal of covering South Yorkshire, but no-one is saying it will be easy. ECP are highly active in this region, as is rival independent chain Bullseye.

Still, a combination of a known and trusted local brand mixed with Clarke’s shrewd business sense and desire to succeed? We wouldn’t bet against them.

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Chesterfield-based Autosupplies Group has successfully completed the purchase of Leisureways (The Happy Motorist) of Rotherham.

Leisureways is a long-established family business and until the acquisition, was a member of the A1 Motor Stores buying group.

Trevor Hinchliffe and David Clarke shake on the deal


Autosupplies’ MD David Clarke thanked the previous owners for a smooth transition and said: “We are placing considerable investment into the business including the recruitment of new staff, increased stock availability, infrastructure and logistics. Leisureways is widely known for its retail business and so we are looking to replicate this success in the trade with exceptional customer service to independent garages throughout Rotherham.”


Autosupplies Chesterfield is one of the single largest motor factor sites in the UK with over 100 staff and 70 vans. In October 2017, the firm purchased Butlers Automotive of Barnsley.

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06102016ga_1300_lds2This year, the joint GroupAuto and UAN Gala Dinner and Awards was the first corporate event to be hosted in the newly expanded Main Stand at Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club. The evening kicked off with pre-dinner drinks – sponsored by Denso – in the brand new Chemistry of LFC suite which overlooked the pitch. Liverpool legend John Aldridge was present at the drinks reception for photo opportunities with the Champions League cup. Guests then made their way to dinner in the gala dinner room, where they enjoyed a three course meal and drinks amongst fellow members and suppliers.
The meal was followed by the Member & Supplier of the Year Awards and the BEN Charity Fundraiser. Toby Whewell, GroupAuto Commercial Sales Manager and Karen Martin, UAN Sales Manager, presented the awards and commended the nominees in each category for their commitment to the group this year.

WINNER – David Huggett Motor Factors Ltd

The Nominees – David Huggett Motor Factors Ltd, Anglesey Commercial Spares Ltd, Commercial Motor Products Ltd, CV Parts, Hydrair Truck & Trailer Parts

LV Member of the Year (£3m+ approved supplier purchases)

WINNER – LDS Motor Factors

The Nominees – Livingston Autoparts, D & A Factors (Dundee) Ltd, GL Motor Factors Ltd, Highland Motor Parts Ltd, Motorcare Motor Factors Ltd, LDS Motor Factors

LV Member of the Year (Up to £3m approved supplier purchases)

WINNER – M1 Motor Parts Ltd

The Nominees – Kingswood Autopart Ltd, MGM Motor Components Ltd, M1 Motor Parts Ltd, North West Motor Factors Ltd, SW Motor Factors, SRS Autoparts


LV Supplier of the Year


The Nominees – Banner Batteries, Apec, Exol Lubricants, FPS, Juratek, TMD Friction

CV Supplier of the Year

WINNER – LED Autolamps

The Nominees – LED Autolamps, TMD Friction, Winnards

Congratulations to the winners and nominees in every category.

Nigel Williams from the industry charity BEN followed the awards with a few words on recent developments and how they see the charity growing in 2017 with the help of fundraising activities. Firstly, Lumag presented a cheque for £3,114.20 to Nigel Williams for their fundraising activity this year, which together with the money raised on the gala dinner night, saw a total of £7,114.20 presented to the BEN charity at the end of the evening.

Nigel then hosted the final part of the evening; guests were asked to stand to play ‘Heads or Tails’.

Game 1 winner – Elaine Aylott from Car Spares Cheshunt won a Bosch Cordless Pack worth £500, donated by Bosch.

Game 2 winner – Simon Clarke from BRT Group won a GIANT Mountain Bike donated by Bilstein Group.



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Jimmy Tawana shows us around ABC Auto Factors in Slough

vital_statsDriving rain had been a feature of our past few days on the road, but fortunately the sun came out when we reached the village of Taplow as we paid a visit to ABC Auto Factors.

Etched between a church and a row of houses, the family- based motor factor has been in the same place for a while. Jimmy Tawana, Manager of ABC Auto Factors, explained: “My father Jagjit Tawana started the business back in 1987 and this year, it will mark 29 years of service for ABC Auto Factors”. He added: “In the beginning, it was just my father operating the shop, but we slowly grew our customer base and eventually started delivering parts in the local area”.

With the business now in the hands of Jimmy and brother Harminder the duo manage five staff, over 150 customer accounts and three delivery vans distributing parts in and around the Burnham, Slough and Maidenhead areas.
When we entered, it was a bit of a tight squeeze due to the limited counter space, but spatial issues aside, the business seems to be doing well with phones ringing off the hook throughout our visit, while retail customers queued up to purchase bits and pieces. Although physically small, appearances can be deceiving as parts are stored in every nook and cranny of the branch. “Customers that come and visit us are actually shocked as to how big the store is”, said Tawana. “The shop used to be a house, a butchers, then more recently a pub with the benefit of a cellar which is now home to car parts rather than beer barrels. Over the years the premises have been extended twice to almost double its original size; we now have a large garage at the rear and every single room on the first floor is stocked from floor to ceiling with parts”.


An efficient use of space is required in a compact store

As we wondered through the backroom, we found never- ending aisles of aftermarket brands from Borg & Beck air filters to Banner Batteries and Shaftec brake calipers. Tawana commented: “Naturally basic service parts are a huge area for any factor but recent investments in braking, rotating, steering and suspension as well as brake hydraulics have been instrumental to the growth in these areas. We recently changed our caliper supplier to Shaftec and are now seeing a huge increase in sales; it has proved to be one of our best decisions of late”. We also found two shelves with a variety of Lucas Oil products that has proved a popular sell among trade professionals.

The continuation of stock cleansing has also generated profit for the business with Tawana’s team monitoring stock pareto and up-selling products. “We try to work a lot on cleansing our stock as often as possible or suppliers allow; with limited space it is imperative that we have the correct items on the shelf at all times. Items without any sales in the previous 6-12 months are constantly analysed. This analysis with the aid of the pareto available from our suppliers and our parts reports enable us to stock what is most relevant to our business and local car parc”, Tawana replied.

Every price point is stocked

Every price point is stocked

The ‘buying power’ from larger factors could be a force to be reckoned with as Tawana explains: “In the surrounding areas there are two ECP branches, GSF, AllParts as well as MPD with a local distribution hub. With ABC being a single branch operation with limited resources such as number of vans; it could be argued that it is difficult to compete, however, being a UAN member definitely has its benefits”.

The factor has been a UAN member for five years, which has enabled them to compete against local independents. Harminder Tawana, Director of ABC Auto Factors, elaborated: “For the small fee we pay, the benefit of joining the UAN involves better invoice prices plus rebates which has helped tremendously in growing the business and generating margins for us” Harminder concluded: “The UAN also supports us with a marketing budget which we have used for seasonal promotions on our product ranges”.

Going above and beyond the customers’ expectations is vital for keeping most businesses a-float and ABC Auto Factors have done this by providing an efficient delivery service to workshops while venturing out to new garages to build up its customer base. “My father’s role in the business has now shifted to that of a sales rep. He is responsible for visiting new garages that we haven’t dealt with before in the area”, Tawana continued: “Just recently we have managed to pick some new accounts after persistent visits to them. I am a firm believer that where we may lack in the number of vans or personnel at branch level; the personal service we are able to offer contributes to our overall competitiveness.”

While the firm is keen to build up its customer rolodex, remaining loyal to their existing ones is essential to see customers return to the store in the near future. Tawana added: “We try to get out as much as we can to see our customers, just popping in to say hello and have an informal chat is important to show that we’re still interested in them”, he concluded.

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UAN acquired by GROUPAUTO parent

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UAN acquired by GROUPAUTO parent

uan gau montageThe Alliance Automotive Group, owner of buying network GroupAuto, has announced the acquisition of the United Aftermarket Network (UAN) from the current shareholders Andrew and Rachael Dickinson.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jim Mazza the current Managing Director of GroupAuto will move to a new role of Managing Director of Alliance Automotive Group UK trading groups and a Managing Director of GroupAuto will be recruited.

Andrew and Rachael will stay with the business to ensure an effective transfer of ownership and Phil Dodd will immediately fill the Managing Director’s position at UAN. The move comes just one month after Dodd was appointed to the role of Sales Ambassador at UAN.

The UAN and GroupAuto will continue to operate as separate networks playing to the strengths of the respective brands.

Andrew Dickinson commented: “Rachael and I realised that for UAN to continue to progress as it has over the last eleven years, we needed to become part of a larger, European wide organisation. It is our opinion that joining forces with Group Auto will enable this process.”

Jim Mazza said; “The independent motor factor is faced with a fast-changing market environment with different competitors seeking to position themselves for advantage.  We are in a world where size increasingly matters and it is vital that our members are part of a group which has the resources and purchasing power to enable them to compete on a level playing field.”


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