IAAF Conference leads discussion on aftermarket threats

Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) successfully hosted its best Annual Conference to date on 15 December with the high turnout of members benefitting from numerous discussions exploring IAAF’s key theme, ‘How to survive and thrive – post Brexit’.

The conference, held at the ICC in Birmingham and sponsored by Autoparts UK, welcomed a vast array of speakers to discuss a number of topical subjects affecting the industry and also offer essential advice to ensure the future of the aftermarket is protected, producing a lively debate for conference guests, while John Sergeant, the well-known BBC television and radio journalist, hosted the event.

IAAF chief executive, Wendy Williamson opened the proceedings summarising the political impact of the past year such as that of Brexit, while reassuring members that the federation is now looking to the future and exploring how it can embrace the changes and continue to thrive.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive

Williamson also provided an update on IAAF’s annual activity including its meeting with West Midlands MEP, Daniel Dalton to demonstrate first-hand the faults of parts identification at a local garage, as well as discussing the dinner IAAF hosted with IMCO to communicate its viewpoint on the implications of Euro 5 and IV to MEPs. Williamson also reflected on the threats affecting the aftermarket including the connected car, insisting that these challenges are not new but the pace of change is accelerating and the aftermarket has to gear up and adapt for what is around the corner.

Niranjan Thiyagarajan from Frost & Sullivan then examined the importance of the aftermarket to the UK economy, presenting the results of a recent report carried out looking at the aftermarket in numbers. Thiyagarajan emphasised the power of convenience revealing that customers prefer ease over cost and although the industry should offer a broad range of parts, he urged the sector to specialise in service.

Alison Martin and Ian Bartlett from DVSA then stepped up to give an overview on the topical matter of vehicle safety defects and the UK’s approach to vehicle recall, explaining key legislation and regulations in detail while also exploring ongoing revisions. Once again, Bartlett highlighted rising customer expectations, insisting that it is no longer just about safety and that the aftermarket should be involved in the entire customer journey to ensure the audit trail can be tracked efficiently.

IAAF membership development manager, Mike Smallbone, gave an in-depth update on the Right2Choose campaign and the launch planned for 2017, emphasisng the need to rejuvenate the market and catch up with the rest of Europe by raising awareness to block exemption legislation and overcoming huge customer ignorance surrounding this topic.

Delegates also learned more about the threats of cybercrime and how to better protect their business with Iain O’Brien from Triple Wood Associates on hand to provide critical advice. The IAAF is now advising the industry to prepare their businesses against these dangers, encouraging its members to manage the potential threat of cybercrime at senior management level by training, briefing and practicing the danger with employees.

After lunch, Julian Lloyd from ProVQ, IAAF’s newest member, took to the stand to discuss the benefits that changing legislation to apprenticeship programmes will offer the aftermarket while providing positive real-life examples.

Neil Pattemore from FIGIEFA was also on hand to discuss the latest emerging threats to the aftermarket and the implications of Brexit, giving an end-of-term report from Brussels and a summary of legislation changes such as revised type approval and the federation’s commitment to highlighting the problems of the revision. Pattemore also explored the threat of the connected car and the complicated proposals that give vehicle manufacturers (VMs) sole access to in-vehicle data.

Alexander Haid from Caruso then issued a direct warning to the aftermarket urging the industry to act now and begin to find a solution to the connected car. Focusing on the Caruso telematics platform, Haid warned that the technology is already available and therefore the aftermarket should capitalise on this opportunity by “moving, investing and exploring” this huge market to find a single platform solution and ensure the future of the aftermarket, warning that if the aftermarket waits long, the VMs will take a bigger share.

Alexander Haid of Caruso

Lawrence Bleasdale brought the proceedings to a close outlining the key messages of the conference and thanking all members for attending, as well as the organisers for successfully arranging the event.

A number of sponsored presentations were also delivered by Nick Chambers from Boswell on insurance, Joel Coombes from LAWGISTICS and Jeanette Breckles from GTG on health and safety offering delegates an informative insight into the many benefits of IAAF membership.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive said: “Once again the conference was a huge success and we have already received great feedback from attendees. This event is not only a great way for us to communicate with members and offer essential advice on the most relevant topics, but it also enables them to network with other like-minded professionals throughout the day.

“As an industry we still face a number of threats with technological advances continuing to enter the market, as well as facing challenges of the changing economic climate and therefore it is more important than ever that we continue to work alongside FIGIEFA in Europe post Brexit. However, despite this year full of change we are making progress and will face all threats head on while continuing to search for solutions.”