Andrew Tress

Andrew Tress

Despite the continual innovation in the shocks market, price pressure from OEMs remains intense, effectively dampening revenue growth.  Here, Matthew Beecham talks with Andrew Tress, sales manager for Meyle UK about the need to educate the motorist about the dangers of using worn out shock absorbers in an effort to lift sales in an increasingly competitive aftermarket.  Meyle UK was established in 2009 to supply the British market with quality replacement parts.

What should Meyle mean to your customers?  And what is the message you are trying to get across about Meyle?

Meyle stands for high quality parts and innovation. As with all Meyle parts, our shock absorbers have a two year unlimited mileage warranty and are at least of matching OE quality and therefore are fully compliant with Block Exemption Regulation. All Meyle parts are rigorously tested against the OE part before release and these quality and engineering checks will continue whilst the part is still a live production item. This ethos is carried through to our back office and sales processes meaning that our customer service is first rate and that we only distribute through premium outlets.

From a technical perspective, what trends are you seeing in shock absorber design?

At this point, there is an increasing demand for chassis that can be adjusted to the specific needs of the driver. The adjustments can either be made by the driver or occur automatically when loads are added, i.e. if the overall vehicle weight changes (load sensitive dampers).

How do you go about 'educating the motorist' about the dangers of worn-out shocks?

Many car drivers lack awareness of the vital role shock absorbers play for overall car safety. Wear eating away at the shock absorber often does not show until the car's operational safety is at risk. The parts wear away gradually, many defects are not visible at first glance, but their impact on the overall car system is dramatic. Properly functioning shock absorbers reduce braking distances, ensure excellent road holding when cornering and trouble-free operation of state-of-the-art driver assistance systems such as ABS, ESP or TCS. This is why it is important for workshops to employ only high-grade replacement parts designed to perform this safety-critical function. With the comprehensive range of high quality shock absorbers from Meyle, independent workshops are well equipped for the repair of these safety-critical components.

Are there national differences in the replacing shocks, say between Germany and the UK?

There may indeed be some slight differences between shock absorber replacement techniques in the UK and Germany. However, these minor differences probably do not have any impact on the characteristics of the shocks. For safety reasons, regardless where in the world shock absorbers are replaced, they should never be replaced just one at a time, but always one axle at a time. If you were to replace just one, the performance of the shocks would not be identical on both sides.

We've seen reports that suggest the European aftermarket is growing at only 2 - 3% annually.  How is your shock absorber business performing?

It is true that the aftermarket is only showing national growth but this is looking at things through a very broad lens. Some parts are static or declining whilst others are showing rapid growth. Shock absorbers are showing some growth, with further potential as both the consumer and workshops are better informed about the dangers of worn shock absorbers and also the necessity to fit in axle pairs.

Looking at the distribution channels in Europe, what are the big changes you are seeing at the moment? And what does this mean for Meyle?

More motor factors are now selling online to supplement their traditional sales from the local garage trade. This should not be seen as a bad thing but more just moving with the times. Broadly speaking the parts flow is the same from manufacturer to re-seller to end user. The danger is if national distributors or manufacturers decide to sell online whether directly or through shopping portals such as Amazon or eBay. From the end user or consumer perspective the trend definitely seems to be shifting from being exclusively price led. Fewer people now want the cheapest white box part they can find as they can see the longer term benefits of fitting a recognisable branded product at a reasonable price.

What are your plans for market growth in emerging markets?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE research service

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