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Automechanika Birmingham hails success of first industry webinar

The first of the Automotive Aftermarket Webinar Series looking at how coronavirus has affected businesses throughout the aftermarket supply chain has proved to be a huge success, with hundreds of industry professionals ‘tuning in’.

Launched by Messe Frankfurt UK, organisers of Automechanika Birmingham, the virtual discussion delved into the depths of the challenges and opportunities brought out by the ongoing pandemic, with the panel agreeing that the aftermarket has set a great example as an industry that has shown the very best of itself throughout the pandemic.

The webinar was hosted by Mark Field, who manages the PR for Automechanika Birmingham, and who engaged equally with key industry professionals to hear their views on how their business has managed over the past few months, and what the future looks like for the supply chain.

Comprising of a varied aftermarket panel, the speakers included Quentin Le Hetet, GiPA; David Clarke, Autosupplies Chesterfield; Richard Welland, WAI and Vice President from IAAF and Hayley Pells, Avia Autos.

Le Hetet highlighted key statistics, pointing out that at its lowest point, trade reduced by 90%, but gave hope, saying that the figures are starting to return to normal, with the lockdown period increasing the sentiment of the importance of owning a car. He also discussed the growth of digitalisation, with the aftermarket now seeing more workshops embracing services that they never had time to consider previously.

Meanwhile, Clarke has had a positive lockdown experience, saying that staying open was one of his best business decisions to date as he has experienced a 20% increase in trade, while also agreeing that ways of working have evolved, stressing the importance of adapting to change in order to progress.

This includes embracing demand for new, in-demand products such as vehicle sanitiser kits or safety screens.

As a supplier, Welland discussed how acting fast and pulling on worldwide resources early on helped businesses get up and running. WAI took the approach to speak to customers directly about their needs and adapted quickly, sourcing products and solutions that would help customers keep their doors open.

The MOT extension hit garages hard, and Pells revealed that it reduced business by 85%. However, it is now returning to pre-lockdown levels. With the personal car currently being the transport of choice, Pells stressed the need to communicate more intimately with the customer to meet their requirements, going beyond presentation and having a long-term plan in place so that the customer can make informed choices and manage the upkeep of their vehicle.

Simon Albert, Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt UK, organisers of Automechanika Birmingham, said: “We’d like to thank our industry speakers for providing such an informative insight into how COVID-19 has affected the aftermarket supply chain, and the positive experiences we can take out of it. The team are continuing to talk to the market to collate feedback and ideas to shape the next webinar in the series, due to take place 8th September”.

Webinar attendee and well-respected Automotive Author Tom Denton commented “This industry webinar was excellent; it was refreshing to hear honest conversation from the panellists; owners of successful businesses in the trade sharing their experiences. I’d recommend others in the aftermarket to catch up or join the next edition”.

For those who were unable to attend the webinar, the live session has been recorded and is available at www.automechanika-birmingham.com/webinar.

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