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Albany asks bodyshops to use Morelli products

Bodyshops have responded angrily to attempts by accident management company Albany Assistance to mandate a particular paint and materials supplier.Although their contracts with Albany do not stipulate a paint partner, accident repairers report that earlier this month the Helphire subsidiary said they must use Morelli Group as their paint supplier for its repair jobs from December 1, or face termination of their contracts.

In a letter to Albany’s approved repairers, repair network manager Graham Barley said: “It is a requirement that all paint and materials used on Albany Assistance vehicle repairs be supplied by Morelli Group.”

But a fortnight later the work provider was keen to soften the tone of its partnership with the supplier. 

Albany’s head of business development Lesley Jackson issued a letter saying use of Morelli was not being made mandatory. 

“However, in context of the mutually supportive business relationships we wish to foster with our repair network, we would hope that you would give appropriate consideration to the benefits they can add,” he added.

Morelli supplies DuPont, Standox, Spies Hecker, Glasurit and PPG paints.

The issue has once again prompted debate about whether bodyshops should be left to choose their own suppliers.

Industry consultant Robert Hadfield described it as “a real mess”.

Such initiatives by factor groups and direct supply deals between paint companies and insurers were a crude attempt by work providers to get a grip on the only part of repair costings that keep most bodyshops in profit, he said.

One bodyshop manager said: “I have a great relationship with my current supplier and good terms. I hate being told what to do and forced to use a supplier that I don’t know. Yet I have 40 people relying on me in a current market where work is scarce and Albany provides 20% of my jobs.”

Another added: “I object in the strongest possible terms to be told where to procure supplies from and who and what is involved in that supply chain. I should be at liberty to deal with who I want, how I want, on what terms I want.”

At last week’s ABP Club convention, Morelli group sales director Ruth Moring did not wish to be drawn into a debate about the deal. 

However, Barley said it was up to repairers to make up their own minds. Albany was simply “asking people to spend an hour listening to a proposal”.

  • Morelli has struck a deal with Peugeot whereby it becomes the French carmaker’s preferred supplier of paint and materials - details in the 14 Nov 2008 issue. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.

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