Tag Archive | "Wrexham Motoring Supplies"

THE CHANGING FACE OF RETAIL

Tags: , , , ,

THE CHANGING FACE OF RETAIL


After a grim few months on the High Street, we speak to retailers and suppliers in our sector to find how they have adapted

WMS shop floor

Let’s not beat about the bush here: 2018 has so far been a terrible year to be a High Street retailer. There have been numerous high profile casualties such as Toys R Us and electronics giant Maplins as well as clothing retailers such as New Look, Claire’s Accessories and Jones the Bootmaker either calling in the receivers or announcing drastic restructuring.

Even restaurants in the so-called ‘smart casual’ dining sector, which for a long time were lauded as saviours of dwindling town centre, seem to have hit bad times. Carluccios, Prezzo and pretty well all of the outlets in TV chef Jamie Oliver’s portfolio have announced drastic closure programmes. It isn’t ideal.

Nonetheless, traditional accessory shops have adapted as best as they can to the changing face of the retail environment: The days of Ray D’Ator (CAT’s longtime accessory shop owner turned columnist) scowling at people over the counter, and his attitude of ‘you don’t want it looking too smart, people will think they can’t afford it’ are well and truly over.

SHOP ENVIRONMENT
Indeed, it is the opinion of the accessory retailers we spoke to is that the environment has changed significantly over the last couple of years, leading them to revise their offering. “There’s a change in consumer behaviour due to cars being less easy to work on therefore fewer DIY mechanics to serve” noted Jonathan Rogers of Wrexham Motoring Supplies. “We do a lot of free fits now when it comes to bulbs, batteries, wipers etc and we have noticed a significant increase in this service. This is directly in line with inf lating garage hourly rates and people being forced into looking elsewhere for fitting.”

Richard Shortis, Managing Director of regional chain Wico, said: “The range of product has increased as a result of the changing marketplace. Gone are the days of two different headlight bulbs, now there are about 10 – and that’s not including all the different upgrade versions.” Shortis adds that a noticeable change in the key categories of bulbs and wipers is that (with the possible exception of high-output bulbs) the parts wear out more slowly, and need changing less frequently. However, more customers are asking for the bulbs and blades to be changed for them, which Wilco will do for a fee.

One retailer who feels the environment has not changed significantly is A1 founding member and accessory shop owner Joe Elliott. “Has the environment changed in the last two years? Not really, business has remained consistent,” he said. “It’s busy when its cold and its OK the rest of the time.”

Push bike sales in decline

Despite this, Elliott says that he has noticed more sales in touring equipment. “I think the increase in sales of roof bars and WMS shop floor boxes are due to development in the leisure market. More families these days take part in more leisure activities throughout the year,” he said. “Roof boxes, expensive as they can be, it can often be cheaper to buy one and all the malarky that goes with it (instead of renting one on multiple occasions or shelling out for a larger car).”

Despite the rise in sales, he describes the competition from online vendors in the leisure category as ‘absolutely tremendous’ and he counters it by offering good service and free fitting. Indeed, it is the fitting offer to which Elliott attributes the company’s ‘edge’. “Apart from one very brief period, at Elliots, we have always offered free fitting on any accessory, whether that is bulbs, wipers or roof boxes. This policy has bought us a tremendous amount of kudos within the city. When we tried charging, we lost our edge. We have seen sales dramatically increase since we went back to free fitting.”

PUSH BIKE SALES
One area that appears to be in decline, or at least not as profitable as everyone hoped, is the sale of push bikes. “We did dip our toes into the cycle side a few years ago but quickly realised how saturated the market was,” explained Jon Rogers, adding that there is more to cycle retailing than simply stocking a few bikes. “We are clearing out of push bikes,” concurred Joe Elliott. “We went to a lot of trouble and expense setting up as a cycle repair shop, but for some reason it just hasn’t worked.”

“The other issue is that the Push bike sales in decline venture capitalist have come into the cycle industry… and we all know how they were when they went into the motor factor side of our trade,” said Richard Shortis, adding that pedal-electric bikes were a growing segment, albeit one that was growing from a very low base.

So the message from the market is adapt fast and respond to new trends – and don’t be afraid to try something new. Just be prepared that not every new trend (particularly in our sector) is going to fly.

Posted in CAT Features, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS

Tags: , , , ,

GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS


We pay another visit to the Rogers family at Wrexham Motoring Supplies

Jonathan and Alun Rogers

Jonathan and Alun Rogers

As a CAT Award nominee, we thought it was high time for a return visit to accessory store Wrexham Motoring Supplies.

The third generation retailer will hit its 50th milestone next year as an independent supplying garages and ‘DIY mechanics’ in the town of Wrexham. Founder Arthur Jones established the shop in 1968 and kept it solely as a family-run entity that was later entrusted to his daughter Gaynor and son-in-law Alun Rogers after he died in 1971. Since then, Arthur’s grandson Jonathan now heads up the operation alongside his father.

To say the father and son duo were shocked was an understatement after finding out they’d been shortlisted for the Retailer of the Year Award “We were surprised to say the least,” said Jonathan, “I even e-mailed the Editor to find out how we got nominated, but we were very thankful and humbled to have been considered for the award”.

STORE LAYOUT
We felt the Rogers family did not give themselves enough credit for what seemed like a clean and tidy establishment stocking a number of well-known aftermarket brands with customers popping in and out for various items and the occasional chat during our visit. From Bosch wiper blades to Laser tools there were many accessory shop staples hanging up on display behind the counter for technicians and car enthusiasts alike. The middle of the store encompassed a range of low viscosity oils from Millers and Castrol, which were lined up in single file across the shelves; complemented with a variety of car care products and kits for extra road safety and vehicle maintenance.

Store is clean and organised

Store is clean and organised

CUSTOMER SERVICE
“Our fastest selling lines are brake pads, oils, bulbs and filters”, said Alun Rogers. “If someone comes in for a bulb or wiper, we will fit it for them because they’re not the easiest thing to fit, and won’t charge for fitment as we’ll hopefully see the customer return later”. Jonathan concurs, explaining that the driving force behind the retailer was going beyond customer expectations with a decent range and free fitting. “We bank on the personal side of the continual customer where most of them come back. Some wipers can take up to ten minutes to fit but we don’t charge for this because we want to help our customers.” he said, adding that the firm also responds to call-outs from garages and DIY enthusiasts for vehicles in need of a jump-start.

Although competition is quite fierce in the area with the likes of ECP and CES just a short distance from the store, Jonathan reiterates the fact that customer service has been a key element to keeping the business afloat while standing out against the local competition. “Our main competitors around here are CES, Euro Car Parts and the LVW Group’s Rollings”, Jonathan continued: “Personal service makes us stand out and we still maintain an element of being a bit ‘old fashioned’ where we’re up-to-date with everything. We offer personal services, and customer satisfaction is our top priority, which is why we’re still here because we’ve become close friends with our customers”.

PRODUCTS
More recently, the Rogers family have extended their product portfolio by supplying Wix Filters and introducing welding gas. Jonathan said the introduction of gas came into effect due to growing customer demand and no rental charges on the cylinders.

Being a UAN member also has its perks allowing the firm to attain more ‘buying power’ from aftermarket brands at cheaper rates. Additionally, the membership offers seasonal promotions that the Rogers can take advantage off as and when required. The store’s website and Facebook channels has been a strong source for advertising and increasing its client Rolodex, as Jonathan points out. “We have a Facebook account and website which we are in the process of updating. We also do some local advertising at car rallies and the Wrexham Football Club”.

For the near future, the team have no drastic expansion plans, apart from continuing Arthur’s legacy and growing their customer base with some more clients already coming onto the books in due course. We look forward to revisiting the Rogers Family for another brew in 2018.

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

Advertisement
  • Friction in Lubrication: Oils market and money
  • Aftermarket Lives:  A VW specialist plans to play the main dealers at their own game
  • 40th Interview: David Houlden of National Autoparts speaks about his career

more info

    • Should hand car washes face further regulation?

      View Results

      Loading ... Loading ...
    • Popular
    • Latest
    • Comments
    • Tags
    • Subscribe