“The bodyshop industry needs one voice to address all the issues such as insurer relationships and increasing legislation coming from the UK Government and Brussels,” says RMI chief executive Matthew Carrington.
He believes the VBRA, which has around 1100 bodyshop members, is a strong brand that offers good technical support services. Added to the RMI's lobbying power, Carrington says the new organisation will have the muscle to really help its members. “We will cover 70 per cent of the bodyshop market,” he adds.
The RMI had been trying to acquire the VBRA for years, but each time the Leeds-based association rebuffed its advances. VBRA director general Ron Nicholson says the board recognises that it is no longer in competition with the RMI.
“They have realised that the two associations can work together because our goals and objectives are the same,” he says. “There are no longer any differences of opinion.”
Nicholson says the move will remove duplication and unnecessary cost – in particular the need to pay two membership fees – and will help to encourage more companies to join.
The RMI intends to retain the VBRA's commercial vehicle body builder operation and its tail-lift division and says there are no plans to close the trade body's Leeds head office.