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Bodyshop volumes are in decline again

The trend of decreasing repair volumes has continued in early 2009 for many bodyshops.

A study by the ABP Club of member bodyshops, which include all the top 25 independent accident repair groups, revealed that 81% had experienced a decrease in the volume of repair work in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period last year.

It is the third annual consecutive decline that repairers have reported in the quarter when, typically, accident repairers expect to achieve an increase in work due to the winter weather causing more minor accidents.

Last year 63% of bodyshops reported a decline. In 2007 the figure was 62%.

Mark Bull, a director of the ABP Club, said: “The fact is that less accident repair work is being undertaken. Compound this with a reduction in average repair time, reducing parts margins and rising operating costs, it presents a clear picture that UK
bodyshops are facing financially challenging times.”

Reasons for the decline include an increasing ratio of total losses due to the cost of repair outweighing the value of the vehicle, and a decline in traffic levels during the recession leading to fewer accidents.

Some bodyshops are combating a decline in directed repair volume by marketing themselves to local businesses and individuals.

Edenbridge Accident Repair Centre successfully operates its own accident management service which targets local fleets. Managing director Joe Godfrey said the contracts generate up to 30% more revenue and pay around £8 per hour more for labour than most insurers’ direct repair contracts.

“We look after businesses that want good service and don’t want disruption. We have 55 fleets that keep us in constant business,” he said.

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