Autotech Talks: Quentin Le Hetet

In the second of our ‘Autotech Talks’ series, CEO Gavin White speaks to Quentin Le Hetet, General Manager of GiPA UK and a respected figure in the automotive aftermarket intelligence field.

Since the start of the pandemic GiPA have been tracking the activities of the European automotive aftermarket, and Quentin was able to report on some vital data on how the industry is faring.

Providing an insight on the country to country variances, Quentin highlights how German garages, with a marginally better result, are considered to be, ‘bucking the trend,’ with alternative strategies to working around the restrictions, while deliberating on the plight of Italy, and the current measures in place within a country the UK is considered just weeks behind in the pandemic.

Sharing European car sales data, he considers the short, and long-term impact on the automotive aftermarket. While much of the deficit won’t be recoverable, Quentin shares tips and strategies on how garage managers should be using this time to effectively plan for the future. From training, “the need for fresh blood will not go down,” looking at new, flexible ways of working, and dealing with the inevitable demand from an ageing car parc as a result of lower new car sales.

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HSE Advice to distribution centres and other sites on maintaining social distancing for drivers

Loading and unloading goods vehicles can put drivers and other workers at risk. It is important to consider all risks to the health, safety, and welfare of drivers delivering to and collecting from sites, and take reasonable and practical steps to safeguard drivers and mitigate risk to their health and safety.

Many dutyholders manage the safety of visiting drivers in line with HSE Guidance by providing a dedicated waiting area with welfare facilities for drivers.

This helps to reduce the risks of unintended drive-away incidents during loading or unloading and of drivers being struck by fork lift trucks or other vehicles if they are walking around the site.

At the current time, it is important to maintain social distancing as much as possible to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and Public Health England guidelines on social distancing should be followed. Those in control of premises should think about how they maintain social distancing for visiting drivers while also ensuring that they have access to welfare facilities on site.

If existing facilities allow drivers to maintain social distancing, there may be no need to make any changes. However, if social distancing cannot be maintained, it may be safer, as a temporary measure for drivers to remain in their cab during loading or unloading or waiting areas to be relocated.

If changes are made to current arrangements, further consideration will need to be given to how pedestrians and vehicles can continue to circulate in a safe manner, avoiding the risk of drive-away incidents and how drivers can be allowed to safely access welfare facilities if required.

Visiting drivers must follow the arrangements that the dutyholder has put in place and follow the government’s advice on hand washing.

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Softly does it – a soft opening for the award winning, Avia Autos of South Wales

Following the government guidance of surrounding covid-19 is a tricky feat for the small business owner. First, we hear what is announced from Westminster and the appropriate government departments, such as the DVSA for our sector, then we turn to our devolved administrations for subjects relating to things like business rates and health. The successful navigation of the business is critical and there have been moments of confusion whilst the world is rearranged, and we discover what fits where. For Avia an area of challenge is whether the business is to be considered “retail” and therefore able to access the suite of benefits that this label will bring. An ongoing conversation now at ministerial level, clarification is hotly anticipated. Conversations at local government level became increasingly short and resulted in a question if every motorist in the county of Bridgend were not entitled to the rights of a consumer?

To assist clarification, a collection of self-reporting data was compiled through social media. The data was anonymised, collated, coded, and presented to the Minister for Transport in Wales in a matrix format displaying what counties had awarded what. Data collected in this fashion cannot always be singularly relied upon, but it can give a “feel” of circumstance that can be later supported with more reliable sources. Owing to the final caveat of business rates being under the control of local government, we may still find ourselves in a postcode lottery as a simplistic mechanism to roll out financial support will always be a blunt instrument.

In the beginning of the lock down, being Welsh, a “half ‘n’ half” strategy was deployed. Safely sequestering half of our team whilst the other half worked was initially successful, we felt we provided a much-needed service for essential travel and could do so safely. The decision to suspend MOT testing dealt a devastating blow as the country prepared itself for tighter lock down and to continue was not fiscally viable. The hard decision to shutter the business was made.

Preparing the business for an unknown period of closure was so very hard, creating a surprising amount of unwelcome administration. As a team we have utilised the time in different ways, I have made repairs to some kit I never got round to doing and can successfully consume a pack of jelly tots without my children’s knowledge. We keep in touch socially through video link, chatting about what we are up to and what the future might bring.

Today, the Welsh Government offered further guidance with regards to the lock down protocol and we have, as a team, reflected on what this means to us and how we can move forward safely. We have decided to reopen using a soft approach inspired from hospitality with no official launch to our motorists. Prioritising those we are aware that require essential repairs we intend to beta test our refined safe working techniques utilising digital resources sent to us from the Parts Alliance and equipment we have bought from WAI Global to sanitise vehicles.

Avia will take time to carefully test these procedures and will then take the opportunity to analyse the findings before deciding as a team on how to more forward. It is important to consider the safe return to work, especially for those who have been off for a longer period. It is intended to continue with the “half n’ half” strategy that worked so well for us in the beginning, cycling the team in order to adequately rest and provide input from everyone for decision making. We are all very aware that we need to open the doors at some point and for us, this soft approach works best.

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After 3 full weeks of lockdown, the aftermarket is still suffering

GiPA UK has been tracking the activity of 420 British workshops for the last 3 weeks, since the Government announced strict measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK and published its 2nd analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the aftermarket.

On week 16, the proportion of workshops that were closed had slightly increased (46% being open). Some previously open workshops decided to close but also some sites that were closed decided to open.

As British drivers are settling into the routine of the lockdown, most of them are using their car only for primary needs. Our research also shows that most drivers are postponing car maintenance until the situation becomes stable and 73% of them do not plan to have any car workshop entries between April and June.

GiPA UK will provide updates to this report every two weeks, in order to track any changes.

For any question regarding the above and GiPA in the UK:

Contact: Quentin Le Hetet
Telephone: +447760 565874
Email: [email protected]
Website: gipa.eu

Government launches new coronavirus business support finder tool

A new ‘support finder’ tool will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The finder tool on GOV.UK will ask business owners to fill out a simple online questionnaire, which can take minutes to complete, and they will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma yesterday said:

Businesses of all shapes and sizes play a vital role in our economy, which is why we want to make it as easy as possible for all of them to access our wide-ranging package of financial support during this challenging time.

This online questionnaire takes just minutes to complete and will quickly signpost a business to the loans, grants or other schemes they could be eligible for.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “We’ve launched an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs, businesses and incomes during these challenging times.

Millions are already benefitting and this new online tool will allow firms and individuals to identify what help they are entitled to in a matter of minutes.

We are doing everything we can to make our support as accessible and as easy to navigate as possible.”

To support business, workers and the self-employed during the coronavirus outbreak, government has:

  • made up to £330 billion of loans and guarantees for businesses
  • offered to pay 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed workers, up to £2,500
  • deferred the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June – representing a £30 billion injection into the economy
  • introduced £20 billion in tax relief and cash grants to help businesses with cash flow
  • introduced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes for both SMEs and larger businesses to make it easier to access vital financial support
  • offered to cover the cost of statutory sick pay
  • entirely removed all eligible properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector from business rates temporarily;
  • introduced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, offering a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month
  • deferred Self Assessment payments due in July 2020 until 31 January 2021
    allowed companies required to hold AGMs to do so flexibly, which may include postponing them or holding them online;
  • suspended wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic; and
  • offered a 3 month extension for filing accounts to businesses hit by coronavirus.

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Motorparc 2019: commercial vehicle ownership in the UK surpasses 5 million

SMMT’s Motorparc data has revealed that the number of vehicles registered for use on British roads has surpassed 40 million for the first time.

As of 2019, there are more than 35 million cars, 4.5 million vans and over 600,000 trucks in use in the UK, representing a 1.0% increase on the previous year.

The van figure is particularly interesting, as not only is it double what is was ten years ago, but it wasn’t expected to reach this level until 2021.

Many of these vehicles of course remain on British roads even now, providing essential transport services and delivering supplies across the country.

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Scam Alert from the IGA: Business Rate Relief Fraud – Beware

Reports have been made to the Independent Garage Association regarding an attempted scam email.

The scammer asks businesses for the previous year’s rate relief funds and threatens to begin legal proceedings if the “balance due” is left unpaid.

The email continues to detail a falsified contract signed by the business, and includes a fictitious previous contract sent date. It also emphasises that the money due to the scammer is not as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The email uses specific details relating to the business, so please be wary of unfamiliar companies asking to speak directly with business directors or partners.

This is not an email from the UK government or your local authority, so you should be cautious if you are unaware of external contracts regarding business rates.

To report a scam to the UK authorities, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or fill in an online report via their website.

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AAG contributes to care homes in the local community

As part of the on-going relief effort against Covid-19, the Alliance Automotive Group has donated Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) packs to over 50 care homes in local communities. Recognising stocks were in short supply, the group utilised internal resources to procure items including face masks, hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes and gloves to create packs aimed at supporting the most vulnerable.

Some of the 50 care homes were nominated by staff throughout the group, with deliveries being received last week.

Steve Richardson, Managing Director at Alliance Automotive Group commented “ We can only hope this contribution provides some support to care homes where supply is much needed, keeping key workers and the local community safe”.

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More helping hands from ECP

The team at a Euro Car Parts branch in Leeds has baked cakes and delivered them to their local hospital as a way of saying thank you to NHS workers for their ongoing fight against Covid-19.

ECP’s Camberley and Chertsey branches have joined forces to donate gloves, blue roll, hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants to staff at the London Irish rugby club, who are making and delivering thousands of meals a week to hospitals, for NHS staff.

The Aldershot Euro Car Parts branch has been busy supporting the local community’s nurseries and residential homes for the elderly. The team put together and safely delivered goody boxes of essential consumables and cleaning products.

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Have a bit more time on your hands? Try GS Yuasa Academy

Use any spare time to gain the skills you need to improve service, increase sales and reduce warranty returns.

GS Yuasa Academy offers best practice advice, covering every step of a battery’s ‘journey’ – from leaving the shelf, through ongoing maintenance, to end of service life.

  • Over 20 detailed training courses
  • Downloadable completion certificates
  • Dynamic video-based learning with support material
  • Job role specific tailored learning paths
  • Team functionality for organisations

Designed for individuals and organisations alike, the module-based courses provide valuable knowledge and practical skills. They are delivered in a dynamic video format by engaging presenters and include graphics to aid learning plus downloadable support material.

Training can be completed at any pace. Each course module only takes a few minutes and users can leave the site and return to pick up where they left off at any time.

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