How the UK aftermarket is enduring Brexit and lockdown

The last time Tyres & Accessories took a close look at the aftermarket sector back in July 2019, we took the optimistic view that the UK aftermarket space would be able to weather the Brexit storm. Of course, back then Brexit and trans-Atlantic trade wars were the most significant pressures on aftermarket parts segment. Now, however, things are considerably more complex and unpredictable. So, in this analysis we examine the most recent pre-lockdown data as well the latest mid-lockdown information in order to answer the question: is the UK aftermarket still weathering the storm?

The United Kingdom automotive aftermarket sector reached a value of $30.6 billion (£24.6 billion) last year, according to MarketLine data, which is calculated in US-dollars. This figure means the UK aftermarket grew 3.9 per cent, which remains a healthy pre-corona figure albeit slower growth than the 4.9 per cent and $28.5 billion total (£22.53 billion) a year earlier.

Tyrepress Podcast: Autogem’s Prashant Chopra

Autogem’s delight at ‘dream duo’ appointment

Autogem tells us it has recruited a ‘dream duo’ of aftermarket sales professionals as part of its ‘people, processes and products’ strategy. The automotive sector supplier has appointed Rikki Kane and Jenna McGilp to the respective roles of Commercial Sales Director and Commercial Telesales Manager. Between them, Kane and McGilp can draw upon more than half a century of industry experience.

Autogem Under Pressure is back

Autogem Invicta Ltd has confirmed the return of its award-winning competition that aims to “celebrate TPMS excellence across the UK.” Under Pressure ’24 begins on 28 May and is open to all UK tyre technicians using Autogem’s patented i-Sensor technology. The competition promises to be “bigger and better than ever before.”

Autogem reveals most compact, lightweight Gemini TPMS sensors

Autogem has introduced its most compact and lightweight TPMS sensor. Named Gemini “after the star sign which can talk to anyone,” according to Autogem, the Gemini can, appropriately, communicate with virtually all vehicle manufacturers, presenting a single solution for aftermarket replacement sensors. Smaller and lighter than Autogem’s previous sensors, the Gemini has a new single-sensor body and come pre-mounted with interchangeable valve stems.

Autogem’s double NTDA award win

Autogem has paid tribute to its customers, suppliers and “irreplaceable team” after securing a double success at the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) awards – including the Aftermarket Equipment Supplier of the Year title for a third successive year. Autogem also won the Staff Training & Development Initiative of the Year for its Under Pressure ’23 nationwide TPMS competition.

Autogem enhances repair solution

Autogem has inflated its aftermarket tyre safety offering to coincide with National Tyre Safety Month, courtesy of an improved 6mm combination plug patch solution. The upgrades begin with the packaging, which now includes a QR code linking to a product training video. Two ‘cut-out and keep’ guides can also be detached from the box and used to help identify safe and repairable areas of tread as well as tyre injury angle of penetration.

Tyrepress Podcast: Pro-Align’s Clive Seabrook

Pro-Align now under sole ownership

Following the retirement of two of its founding directors, Paul and Kathryn Beaurain - who retire after more than 30 years, Pro-Align is now under sole ownership. Established in 1990, husband and wife paring Paul and Kathryn Beaurain founded Pro-Align alongside Philip Wylie, who will continue as the company’s sole owner, utilising his extensive automotive industry and investment banking experience.

Pro-Align supports Kwik Fit wheel alignment upgrade

UK Hunter tyre servicing equipment distributor Pro-Align is helping to upgrade wheel aligners throughout Kwik Fit’s 600-plus site network. The company is supporting the software upgrade to WinAlign 17 on Hunter Elite TD aligners used by the chain. The new version increases accuracy and efficiency, and therefore revenue opportunities, Hunter says. Kwik Fit has been using the Elite TD since 2014. In addition to the network wide software upgrade, Pro-Align is also installing the Hunter Elite TD system across 14 Kwik Fit and Tyre Pros centres, with one site investing in a new Hunter DSP706 aligner for its workshop.

Pro-Align: cost of living vs cost of life

Pro-Align’s Quick Tread Edge has joined the Quick Check Drive in offering garages the opportunity to identify servicing opportunities with great speed and efficiency, while also offering a customer-friendly interface designed to support businesses’ relationship with their customers. The exclusive distributor of Hunter garage equipment also explains how electric vehicles are increasing the need for accurate and efficient wheel balancers.

Hella, Pro-Align launch new trade event in Scotland

Pro-Align vehicle diagnostic expert and Hella Gutmann will bring a hands-on workshop experience to Lanarkshire in Scotland in November 2021. The event, giving business owners and vehicle technicians from across Scotland an opportunity to trial on some of the world’s leading industry systems, will be hosted by New College Lanarkshire on 17 November. Pro-Align is the sole UK distributor of leading US wheel servicing equipment brand Hunter. Hella Gutmann is a pioneer of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) calibration for the independent aftermarket. Recognising the increasing synergies between their areas of expertise, the two companies became brand partners earlier in 2021.

MOTs worth £177 million a year in UK tyre sales

MOTs influence the sale of up to a quarter of a billion pounds-worth of replacement tyre sales in the UK each year

Together, the increased utilisation of independent contractors on the supply side and record online search figures on the demand side show that MOT testing is booming. Considering that MOTs were put on hold for roughly four-and-a-half months between March and August (let’s not even mention the Northern Ireland MOT crisis), this is good news. Word of a coming MOT spike will be warmly welcomed by the tyre and aftermarket associations that lobbied government for the end of the MOT extension on both road safety and economic grounds. But what exactly does the apparent boom look like? And why does it matter to the tyre trade?

MOT demand set to double in the last quarter of 2020

Demand for MOT tests is expected to double in the last four months of 2020 (Photo: Ryan Doka; Pixabay)

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is encouraging motorists to get their delayed MOT test done this summer ahead of a surge in demand in the Autumn. The projections, based on due dates and vehicle MOT expiry dates, show that demand for MOTs will be at around 3.4 million in September, 4.8 million in October and November and 4.2 million in December. This demand is predicted to be around double the normal volumes (approx. 2.5 million per month). However, August demand is predicted to be just over 2 million MOTs, which is fewer than usual.

DVSA’s predictions of double MOT demand are even more pronounced that Halfords’ earlier projections of an 85 per cent uptick in demand. Halfords based its analysis on the grounds that 1.7 million drivers will try to book their MOT in October, on top of the normal demand of about 2 million vehicles.

12.5 million motorists may have skipped car service due to COVID-19

Despite nearly half (47%) claiming that they were concerned about the safety of their vehicle, fewer than four in 10 (38%) were comfortable doing maintenance work on their car themselves. (Photo: Skica911; Pixabay)

A third of UK motorists (32%) have put off getting their car serviced because COVID-19 financial pressure, according to

BookMyGarage surveyed 10,000 of its subscribers and found that, in addition, a similar number (29%) of drivers delayed servicing procedures simply because their car had covered far fewer miles during lockdown.

While more than half (56%) used the Government’s MOT exemption, the number of drivers who have also put off servicing equates to around 12.5 million cars across the UK’s total of 38.2 million registered vehicles.

End of MOT extension ‘will make the roads safer’ – IAAF

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) welcomed the end of the MOT extension period on 1 August. The federation argues that the move will not only significantly increase road safety but will give a much-needed boost to the automotive sector overall.

The IAAF previously stated that delaying MOTs for a six-month period causes “huge challenges” for the sector, as it inevitably results in thousands of dangerous vehicles in operation, posing huge safety risks. The federation believes the announcement will ensure this number is significantly reduced.

How Pro Align is helping garages revive margins post-lockdown

Pro-Align adopted a service-orientated stance during lockdown (Photo: Pro-Align)

Pro-Align adopted a service-orientated stance during lockdown (Photo: Pro-Align)

Roughly 18 months after Clive Seabrook joined Pro-Align, Tyres & Accessories caught up with the relatively new CEO in order to find out more about how the right equipment and services can add value to garage businesses, especially in the post-lockdown environment.

Challenging times need innovative solutions, so Pro Align responded to the pressures brought about by lockdown by seeing by choosing not to approach the circumstances as a commercial opportunity, but rather by responding to the customer instead: “We adopted the stance that we are providing a service”, said Seabrook, adding this that meant the message was that Pro Align wanted to ensure that customers could continue to do what they wanted to do during the period.

Autogem unveils I-sensor Pro advanced handheld TPMS solution

Autogem’s new I-sensor Pro

Autogem has launched a new, advanced TPMS handheld solution, the I-sensor Pro, in an online event for customers. The device upgrades the original I-sensor, offering customers increased time-saving and potential revenue generation. The I-sensor Pro features Wi-Fi connectivity, wireless Bluetooth and an integrated auto-focus camera, allowing for instant, personalised tyre pressure reporting. It also features a completely integrated tread depth measuring device. The original i-sensor handheld TPMS servicing device was launched in 2013, and has since sold more than 3,500 units in the UK. The I-sensor Pro, like the original, duplicates sensors electronically or manually and can create a brand new, unique sensor in a matter of seconds. It diagnoses sensors at the wheel side and boasts 99 per cent coverage of all direct TPMS vehicles in the UK and also includes American vehicle software coverage as standard.

Trico rebrands as First Brands Group, acquires US brakes, filtration companies

Trico is reminding technicians of customer care best practice, which in turn leads to valuable sales opportunities

Trico is primarily known in the UK as a wiper blade specialist (Photo: Trico)

The automotive replacement parts manufacturer, Trico Group, has announced its new name: First Brands Group, along with the addition of two new brands to its growing portfolio. The company said the adoption of its new identity “reflects its position as a multi-brand global player.” First Brands Group also announced the acquisition of two market-leading US manufacturing companies: brake parts specialist Brake Parts Inc (BPI) and filtration expert, Champion Laboratories Inc (Champ Labs).

Euro Car Parts becomes ‘LKQ Euro Car Parts’

The Euro Car Parts and Andrew Page businesses are to rebrand as ‘LKQ Euro Car Parts’. LKQ Euro Car Parts says the decision reflects its position as a leading business in the UK and European aftermarket sectors with the largest network of outlets, the best technical expertise, widest product choice and most competitive prices. All branches will move under the new LKQ Euro Car Parts banner as part of a phased roll-out, and all employees will now gain access to the same information and systems.

IAAF goes virtual to keep industry connected

Aftermarket businesses have had to adapt due to the current pandemic, and the way in which professionals connect and engage with one another is no exception. As a result, members of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) are now being offered the opportunity to keep up to date with industry insights, trends and opportunities through a virtual platform.

Delphi Technologies expands brake range

Delphi Technologies expands brake range

Delphi Technologies has added to its aftermarket braking range in Europe. In 2019 the company launched more than 130 new brake pads and discs for popular new vehicles, including a growing parc of Asian applications and hybrid and electric cars. Fitted to an additional 19 million vehicles, the company now offers more than 97 per cent coverage on brake discs and 98.58 per cent on pads, in Europe.

Brembo OE on Polestar 2

Brembo is to produce the two-piece four-piston aluminium front calipers and Brembo’s exclusive dual-cast floating brake disc for the Polestar 2 (Photo: Brembo)

Brembo is to produce the two-piece four-piston aluminium front calipers for the Polestar 2 (Photo: Brembo)

Brembo is to supply brake calipers and discs for the new Polestar 2. Specifically, Brembo is to produce the two-piece four-piston aluminium front calipers and Brembo’s exclusive dual-cast floating brake disc for the Polestar 2. Accenting their lightweight aluminium construction, Polestar highlights the aero sculpted Polestar 2 calipers with a distinctive copper gold color that captures the eye and communicates that this Polestar has a Brembo brake system.

Denso webinars ‘go from strength to strength’

Introduced in response to the coronavirus crisis to provide technicians with ongoing training during the restrictions imposed by the country’s lockdown measures, Denso Aftermarket’s webinar programme has proved immensely popular. As a result, alongside the original air conditioning and thermal management modules, which will remain, new product categories will join them as the company shares its wealth of technical knowledge derived from decades of original equipment design and production experience.

Ecobat offers start-stop battery training

The Ecobat EBT780 battery test tool allows users to understand the condition of the battery and the onscreen result can be printed and given to the owner. (Photo: Ecobat)

The Ecobat EBT780 battery test tool allows users to understand the condition of the battery and the onscreen result can be printed and given to the owner.
(Photo: Ecobat)

Following the launch of its One Box start-stop battery testing and installation solution at Automechanika Birmingham last June, Ecobat Battery Technologies (Ecobat), has further developed its offering with the release of a free start-stop battery training, assessment and certification.

Schaeffler adds INA installation guides to Repxpert

Following the successful launch of its LuK clutch step-by-step replacement guides on the Repxpert online technical portal in March, Schaeffler UK is now adding more detailed installation guides – this time covering INA belt systems. The original equipment manufacturer has a hard-won reputation for empowering technicians with the vital technical knowledge they need to carry out safe, reliable and professional repairs, and this latest development continues to underpin this long-term philosophy.

PCL invests in new electronic testing and development facility

New testing facility

Senior Electronics Development Engineer, Michael Crookes

Led by Senior Electronics Development Engineer, Michael Crookes, the introduction of the new electronic testing facility and role will “enable PCL to test and develop electronic products in-house at its state-of-the-art Sheffield HQ”, according to the company.

Autogem introduces multi-use face masks for garages

Autogem has added its gemCare facemask to its product range in response to garages’ demand for anti-Coronavirus measures

Autogem has created a triple-layer, reusable anti-bacterial facemask. The new product has been added to the TPMS and workshop consumables supplier in response to the needs of customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ‘gemCare’ masks, which are non-medical grade and will therefore not affect the supply chain to the NHS, are designed by medical professionals.

ECP launches back-to-work packs to help garages reopen safely

ECP’s Back-to-Work pack

Euro Car Parts has created a new product bundle to help garages access essential cleaning equipment and PPE. Garages can buy a ‘Back to Work Pack’ complete with a 500ml antibacterial hand sanitising gel, a 500ml surface disinfectant spray, 25 pairs of gloves, 25 large, heavy duty refuse bags and six 2-ply blue rolls.

Ring pushes forward with new safety measures

Ring Automotive has taken the appropriate steps to keep the supply chain moving safely and securely and has now fully opened its warehouse with greater capacity than before to continue to support customers, the transport industry and key workers. During the coronavirus pandemic, Ring’s warehouse has been operating all day, every day, albeit with a reduced level of staff and strict safety measures in place to allow for the shipment of both emergency orders and other customer orders.

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