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Activate Group invest £15m to expand body shop division

Victoria Turner, CEO of Activate Accident Repair

Activate Group is investing £15 million to expand its Activate Accident Repair body shop division with a further 15 technology-led sites - creating over 750 jobs.

With sites in Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds, the second phase of investment will see the division expand its offering to cover mobile repair alongside on-site passenger car and light commercial vehicle (LCV) repairs.

To drive the expansion, the group has announced the appointment of Victoria Turner to the role of chief executive of Activate Accident Repair.

Turner brings extensive experience in the repair and insurance sectors, having previously held several senior-level business roles, and will lead the Activate Accident Repair board, reporting to Hannah Wilcox at a group level.

Activate Group announced the creation of its new Activate Accident Repair body shop division in June last year, committing an investement of £3m to five centres over 12 months and creating 240 jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic appears not to have tempered the business' growth plans.

Hannah Wilcox, the chief executive of Activate Group, said: “We keep a close eye on the market and have taken the strategic decision to build rather than acquire so that our commitment to technology-led services, highly-trained teams and focus on the customer experience remains at the core of our offering.

“We are doing this to look after our customers. By investing and expanding we can deliver even better service outcomes. And with the greater visibility ownership affords, we can drive cost and service benefits through the repair journey offering a greatly enhanced customer experience.”

Peter McAninch will take on the role of chief operating officer, Activate Accident Repair, transferring from Activate Group.

McAninch brings experience running multi-site body shop operations in the UK and Australia for fleet and insurers. McAninch will join Turner’s leadership team working to deliver the rapid roll-out of new sites under the stewardship of Activate Group’s non-executive chairman, Paul Pancham.

Pancham said: “Hannah has a clear vision of what she wants to achieve for our customers and shared a compelling investment case with the board that we are in full support of.

“We firmly believe that expanding Activate Accident Repair and investing in technology-driven solutions, as capability and capacity in the sector shrinks, is the right thing for our customers, our people and a sustainable future.”

Activate Accident Repair has already proved a success with fleet and insurance customers, achieving an average Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 78 year-to-date, topping out at 84 during lockdown, said Activate Group.

Wilcox said: “We’ll carefully select locations for new sites based on customer’s requirements for increased capacity. And thanks to several recent new customer wins, we’re continuing to grow, by the end of 2020 volume will have increased by 100% (YoY), which means there is more than enough work for our approved network and our own body shops too.”

All Activate Accident Repair centres will be equipped with the latest technology, including ADAS reset and all safety features for conventional and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).

The sites will also have a fast-track repair lane for non-structural repairs to reduce key-to-key times on smaller jobs and will also work to a set of green repair principals, Activate Group said.

Wilcox added: “This helps reduce our environmental impact while also offering additional cost and time benefits. It starts with repairing over replacing parts wherever it’s safe to do so, using techniques like miracle pull on steel panels and plastic repair on bumpers.

“We’ve also invested in energy efficient technology like UVB lamps, UV primers and heat recycling in our paint ovens to reduce the time it takes to complete jobs. And we can leverage our strong green and alternative parts supply chain too, through sister company Sopp Parts.”

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