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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

The show must go on: IAAF gets the wheels in motion for aftermarket recovery in first virtual conference

Date: Friday 04 December 2020

A successful first-ever virtual Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) conference has taken an in-depth look at the opportunities and threats affecting aftermarket businesses in a post-Brexit and post-Coronavirus world.

Held on Thursday 3rd December, the ‘IAAF Virtual Conference, The Year No One Predicted’ – sponsored once again by automotive aftermarket specialist Alliance Automotive Group and PR company Impression Communications – welcomed a record-number of ‘attendees’, reaching a bigger audience than ever before.

In familiar fashion, albeit virtually rather than face-to-face, Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, took to the screen to welcome members and heap praise upon the automotive aftermarket, applauding how well the supply chain has adapted to changing lockdown measures to ensure vehicles could remain on the road safely and securely.

Williamson spoke of the work IAAF has carried out to support members over the course of what has been a very different and challenging year. This includes supplying letters to distributors when travelling during the stricter stages of lockdown.

IAAF’s lobbying successes were also covered, such as the cancellation of the MOT and the subsequent consequences, as well as providing an overview on Type Approval and BER legislation.

Keynote speaker, David Smith, who has worked for The Sunday Times as economics editor for more than 30 years provided an insightful overview of global economic recovery, looking at the effects of unemployment, the rolling car output, the hangover of COVID-19 and the impact this could have on tax and other financial repercussions.

Quentin le Hetet from GIPA then went on to interpret the long-term effects over the upcoming years, considering how the transition towards new energy and mobility will also affect the future of the aftermarket.

The car parc is rapidly ageing, which will naturally affect driver behaviour, Le Hetet said. This presents opportunities if companies are prepared to adapt to meet this demand.

Members then heard from recruitment specialists Glen Shepherd at Glen Callum Associates, and Andy Lees from PG Automotive, before Rachel Clift, the health and wellbeing director at automotive charity BEN, provided an insight into the impact of the Coronavirus and how it has increased the number of individuals reaching out for support, with the charity experiencing 9,000 enquiries and 2,500 cases, and a 95 percent uplift in helpline enquiries.

Next up was Ronan McDonagh from FIGIEFA, who outlined some of the challenges that the aftermarket will face with the UNECE legislation on cyber security. As we see software replacing many components on vehicles this is an area will be of critical importance in the future.

Mike Smallbone, head of membership development at IAAF, concluded the conference by providing a round-up of the federation’s activity in 2020, while outlining plans for 2021 and new member benefits.

Despite a difficult year, the membership continued to grow, with many of the usual networking events, including the Industry Briefing sessions, going virtual, enabling IAAF to connect and liaise with as many members as possible.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said:

“Despite this year’s conference looking very different to what our members are used to, I’m delighted that we were still able to come together and celebrate the hard work and commitment of dedicated aftermarket businesses throughout such an unprecedented year.
“Although there are other changes and challenges to come in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic, we look forward to facing them head on and urge the industry to continue to gear up for change and efficiently adapt to overcome any threats and maximise the opportunities ahead.”