IAAF welcomes Platinum International as latest member

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) is pleased to announce battery and lubricants specialist Platinum International Ltd has become the latest supplier to enrol as a member, the latest in a series of aftermarket names to join its ranks.

Established in 2002 and originally known as UK Batteries, Platinum International has worked tirelessly to become the UK’s largest independent battery and lubricants distributor, thanks to its focused strategy of growth within the independent aftermarket.

Now employing more than 200 staff with its headquarters based in Manchester, the company has nine strategically placed Platinum Customer Support Centres, through which it services UK and Ireland via its own fleet of Platinum Vehicles, working with Tier 1 partners to provide an ‘in-house’ service, offering maximum availability.

Platinum came about when Chris Taylor, founded Northern Batteries in 1988, a privately-owned independent enterprise, soon growing the company’s market share to 20%. In 1995 the company was renamed National Batteries. In 1998, National Batteries was purchased by one of its major competitors Exide, before ambitions by Chris in 2001 to start up another business saw the birth of UK Batteries just a year later in 2002.

Platinum distributes batteries and lubricants to multiple sectors covering automotive, commercial vehicle, motorcycle, marine and leisure to name a few, including its own Platinum label and some of the world’s largest brands such as Bosch, Mobil, Crompton and Tungstone.

Stuart Dale, Platinum International, said: “With the IAAF being “The voice of the aftermarket”, joining was a must. With the constant developments in the automotive industry, being part of the IAAF will not only give us an opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise on batteries and lubricants with the aftermarket, but also help Platinum stay up to date on other key areas of the sector.”

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Platinum International to our network. We look forward to meeting them at one of our industry events over the coming year and seeing how they can further develop their own standing within the UK independent aftermarket.”

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Business intelligence platform TechMan joins IAAF

Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has announced that TechMan Garage Management Systems has joined the IAAF ranks, as it signs up as the latest member.

Built from within a garage environment specifically for garages and workshops, TechMan offers a management solution for workshops looking to improve and streamline processes, and ultimately increase their bottom line.

TechMan has been designed with garages in mind to ensure every feature meets specific requirements and that its performance reporting tools work to enable businesses get the most from their work force. The system provides a powerful suite of features that enable technicians to track workshop activity, in real-time, as well as review data gathered to analyse performance and track improvement. These features include Paperless Workshop Technology, Tech Efficiency, Video Health Check, PDQ Integration and Tech Data to name a few.

TechMan was developed by Northampton-based In Town Automotive, which has grown from a small two-man business carrying out repairs, services and MOTs to a team of 15 staff.

Terry Dorney, Managing Director, said: “The industry is changing rapidly, and it is important for us as a premium service provider to workshops to be abreast of any new market challenges and in turn help and support workshops stay ahead of the curve.

“Knowing the effort and resource the IAAF puts in to help protect and educate the aftermarket with global market intelligence, it is very clear that we should be supporting the work the federation carries out.”

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: “With the growing challenges faced by independent garages, it is always encouraging to hear how businesses are offering solutions to help garages become more profitable, streamline workflow and drive greater efficiency. The fact that TechMan has been developed from within a garage environment gives them a multi-layered perspective from within the supply chain and we look forward to them sharing their unique insight as a member.”

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SMPE plans growth for UK operation

Standard Motor Products Europe (SMPE) has announced investment plans for its UK facility with the aim of positioning it as the European Centre of Excellence for engineering.

SMPE’s Head Office and Engineering Facility

The engine management specialist is currently recruiting engineers for its Nottingham site, which has recently benefited from investment in new workshop facilities and engineering equipment to aid rapid prototyping of products.

Furthermore, SMPE’s operations in Europe have continued to evolve. The company boasts a new production facility in Poland to meet the increased demand from mainland European customers and this again will be supported by the UK’s centre of excellence for engineering.

Richard Morley, SMPE Commercial Director, said: “We’re delighted to bring this good news story to the automotive trade and local area. Our headquarters in Nottingham will take the lead in customer service, warehousing, finance, marketing and sales, but will also focus heavily on product engineering and development, making it our European Centre of Excellence. It will also have the additional benefit of being able to manufacture new to range items and be first to market.”

“Supported by our operation in Torun, Poland, which services a large proportion of customers in mainland Europe, we are now perfectly positioned to expand our engineering and production footprint, for the benefit of all our customers.”

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Digraph announces new CEO as Sukhbir Kapoor stands down

Digraph Transport Supplies has announced a change in its leadership, as Sukhbir Kapoor announced his intention to step down as chief executive officer due to health considerations.

The Board of Directors have unanimously selected former managing director James Rawson as chief executive officer with immediate effect. Kapoor will spend the next two months supporting the business.

Kapoor joined Digraph from Euro Car Parts in 2018 and during his tenure the company has undergone unprecedented growth with the addition of eight new branches and one acquisition joining the original 14 sites.

Kapoor said: “It has been a privilege to have been working for Digraph during this transformational phase of the company’s development and I’m certain that James will lead the business to even greater heights.”

Rawson said: “It’s great to be back with such a talented team of colleagues old and new. I would like to thank Sukhbir for his stewardship and assistance which will ensure a seamless transition.”

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Damien Germès appointed as NGK Spark Plug’s first native European Regional President EMEA & Corporate Officer of Global Headquarters in Japan

NGK SPARK PLUG’s Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Damien Germès, has been promoted to Regional President EMEA, President & CEO NGK SPARK PLUG EUROPE GmbH and Corporate Officer of the Global Headquarters in Japan from April 1, 2019 – making him the first native European to hold these three top roles for the Japanese company, one of the leading suppliers of automotive parts and technical ceramics worldwide.

Based in Germany, automotive industry expert Germès will succeed current Regional President EMEA, President & CEO of the German subsidiary and Corporate Officer, Masaki Sumiya, who is returning to NGK SPARK PLUG’s headquarters in Nagoya, Japan to take on new responsibilities.

The appointments come seven years after Germès first joined the company as Executive Director Aftermarket Europe, and less than two years after he was promoted to his current position. During this time his deep international industry expertise and personal dedication have steered the region to successes including an expanded Aftermarket product portfolio and the opening of a new European warehouse operation. This progress has also been acknowledged by his additional new responsibilities as Corporate Officer – a global role that will see him contribute to the worldwide strategic direction of the group.

Germès’ earlier career included several executive-level, Europe-wide positions with leading names in the automotive industry. Amongst previous roles, he was CEO at Valeo Service Deutschland and led the European replacement parts business unit for Visteon Corporation. He was educated at the INSEAD graduate business school in Fontainebleau, France, following degrees in international business administration from ESSEC Business School in France and the University of Plymouth in the UK.

Congratulating him on the nomination, Masaki Sumiya said: “Since joining our company, Damien has successfully grown our Aftermarket business and further developed our operations. We are proud to see him become the first native European to take over the full responsibility for both the EMEA region and our German subsidiary, and to be selected for such a senior corporate role.”

As head of the world-leading ignition and sensor specialist’s EMEA organisation, Germès becomes responsible for the company’s automotive Original Equipment (OE) and Aftermarket businesses, as well as NTK Cutting Tools in the EMEA region. His aims will include continuing the company’s mission of adapting its product portfolio and business to the new requirements set by customers across fast changing markets. Echoing his personal ethos of staying true to an authentic management style, he will also lead the 1,000 employees under his regional responsibility in the ‘Nittoku Way’; the shared values of sincerity, self-belief, cooperation and purpose that underpin the company’s global corporate philosophy.

Damien Germès expressed his thoughts on the appointments: “I am delighted and extremely honoured to succeed Masaki Sumiya in these three key roles, through which the company has demonstrated its clear commitment to continued business growth in this key region of the world. It is my strong intention to continue our ongoing innovations and strategic investments; seizing the challenges of transformation within the automotive sector, including new technologies and digitisation opportunities. I am looking forward to an exciting time ahead.”

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TecAlliance officially starts operations at its site in Chennai, South India

Chennai is considered the “Detroit of India.” The annual growth rates of the region are enormous and now TecAlliance is also located in the southern Indian metropolis. Vats R. Srivatchan, Director of TA Autotec Information System India Private Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of TecAlliance, opened the office on Mahalingapuram Main Road, Nungambakkam in Chennai.

Around 100 guests from industry, including representatives of the Indian Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and well-known social representatives from the region, attended the inauguration ceremony. “We are very pleased that we are now also an active part of the so-called Automotive Corridor. Customer proximity is an essential asset for TecAlliance. With our local presence now also in India, we can more effectively support manufacturers, dealers and workshops in the independent aftermarket to take full advantage of the current growth opportunities,” said David J. Winter, Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing at TecAlliance.

Regionalised TecDoc Catalogue for the First Time with Data from Indian Parts Suppliers
With its subsidiary in Chennai, where the Auto Serve workshop trade fair takes place every two years, TecAlliance has closed one of the last gaps in the ranks of its Asian locations. The Automotive Corridor is a region where a number of major automotive companies are represented, including BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Renault-Nissan, Mitsubishi, Caparo Group, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Ashok Leyland, TVS and others. More than 40 percent of Indian automobile production comes from there, and almost 60 percent of India’s automotive supply industry is located there.

The first point of contact at TecAlliance in Chennai, India, is Vats R. Srivatchan, an experienced and nationally recognised expert in the Independent Automotive Aftermarket (IAM), digital customer experience, change management and digital business development in the automotive industry. The former President of TVSASL (MYTVS) was the first automotive service provider to offer a suite of IAM services with its workshop and on-road breakdown services, in 2001.

One of TecAlliance’s first services for the Indian Independent Automotive Aftermarket will be the publication of the TecDoc Catalogue, which for the first time will also contain the data of Indian parts suppliers. This gives dealers and workshops in India a much better overview of the market as to which spare parts are suitable for what vehicles.

Improve the identification and traceability of suitable spare parts
With the regionalised version of the TecDoc Catalogue, the Indian IAM has a globally recognised industry standard for the first time. The aim is to improve the identification and traceability of suitable spare parts and to increase processes and efficiency in the workshop. “TecAlliance’s TecDoc Catalogue for the Indian market also makes an active contribution to the Independent Automotive Service Sector, where employment potential is high.“ says Vats R. Srivatchan. In addition, the market transparency will be improved and this allows unnecessarily high inventories to be reduced, resource management to be optimised and losses for manufacturers and retailers to be minimised.

TecAlliance works closely with ACMA to implement the best possible quality for the Indian spare parts catalog solution. More than 700 manufacturers are organised in the industry association, which covers more than 85 percent of the turnover of the Indian automotive supply industry. The Indian TecDoc Catalogue is provided completely in English, the common technical language of the repair industry.

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The Parts Alliance Spring Show heading to Leeds

The Parts Alliance say preparations for its invitation-only Spring Trade Show on 27th March are now nearly complete.

Gearing up for the regional trade event, which will be held from 5pm at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium, has been a true ‘team effort’. Branches of BBC Superfactors, BMS Superfactors, GSF Car Parts, SAS Autoparts and Waterloo Motor Trade have all been busy encouraging their customers to come along to make it a bumper garage attendance.

Garage customers are set to benefit from free parking, complimentary food and drink as well as the chance to discuss the latest developments and opportunities with over 50 of the motor factor buying group’s key suppliers.

The Parts Alliance is encouraging exhibitors to update customers on technology trends, supported with ‘on the night only’ special deals wherever possible.

“We want to provide a relaxed and welcoming environment so it’s easy for garages to get around a lot of the suppliers and do some useful business,” said Simon Moore, Head of Marketing at The Parts Alliance.

It’s a proven formula; the group’s most recent trade show held in Exeter in November attracted record numbers of customers in ‘Black Friday’ week, leaving suppliers delighted by levels of business on the night.

Special guest appearances are expected from Car SOS presenter Fuzz Townshend and three-time BTCC Champion Matt Neal.

Further events are expected in 2019.

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Tips For Managing Sickness/Absence

High levels of short-term sickness absence can be a costly problem for organisations. This article looks at the steps employers can take to manage short-term sickness absence.

Employers are likely to experience the highest levels of sickness absence between January and March compared with the rest of the year. A spike in absence during the cold winter months could be because of:

  • The cold weather;
  • Commuting in the dark;
  • Mounting debt caused by an influx of post-Christmas credit card bills; and
  • The long gap between the Christmas holidays and the next bank holiday i.e. 19 April 2019.

The latest sickness absence figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that more than 34 million working days were lost to minor illnesses, such as coughs and colds in 2017. Sickness absences in 2018 cost UK employers an average of £656 per employee, with the impact of this more acutely felt by small to medium businesses.

Employers looking to tackle short-term intermittent sickness absence may want to consider the following steps:

  1. Offer flexible working options – employers with flexible working options have been found to be less likely to have high levels of sickness absence. Employees can take advantage of the flexible arrangements and work from home if they are feeling unwell.
  2. Monitor sickness absences – employers that have effective sickness absence management processes are less likely to have high sickness levels.
  3. Promote health and well-being in the workplace – employers can support the health and well-being of the workforce by, for example: arranging flu jabs in work-time; increasing awareness of resilience and mental health; and offering opportunities to take part in yoga or meditation sessions.

Offer ‘duvet days’ – some employers have found that allowing employees one or two ‘duvet days’ per year (where an employee can call in and take a day’s unpaid leave or use unscheduled annual leave simply because they want to stay in bed for the day) can help to reduce sickness absence levels.

Limit the amount of annual leave employees take in the summer – some employees may take the majority of their annual leave in the summer and fail to save enough annual leave for the winter months. Limiting the amount of leave that employees can take over the summer will help to minimise the number of employees that feel that they have to take a sick day when they want a day off in the winter months.

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An employee serving under two years may still lodge an unfair dismissal claim

It is, of course, common knowledge that employees with under two years of continuous service cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal. This is generally true, however in some, albeit strictly limited cases, a claim for unfair dismissal can be started regardless of the length of service.

The case of Hamilton v Solomon And Wu Ltd can serve as a useful reminder. Mr Hamilton had just completed his probation of three months as an installer and worked primarily in the workshop. Mr Hamilton alleged he was dismissed unfairly on the grounds of health and safety as the dust extraction system was ineffective in his workshop and he complained of other contraventions of health and safety regulations, such as a blocked fire exit, tools untested for electrical safety, or that his dismissal was for a protected disclosure (‘whistleblowing’) reporting the alleged health and safety breaches. These two grounds do not require two years of service for an unfair dismissal claim. His employer contended that Mr Hamilton was practically unmanageable and was dismissed for this reason.

The Employment Tribunal considered the presented evidence and decided, its decision was upheld on appeal, that the employee could not at all reasonably believe there was a risk to health of any employee and there was no protective disclosure. This was fatal to the unfair dismissal claim and it failed. No further examination of the dismissal fairness was required as the employee was employed for less than two years.

IAAF Members can get advice on Employment Law and access to HR Manager lite through their IAAF membership. HR Manager, is an easy to understand, simple to use piece of software that enables you to manage all aspects of HR, Employment Law and GDPR compliance for your business. You can either contact the IAAF or call Lawgistics direct on 01480 455500 for further information.

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