Tuesday 23 February 2010

HiQ receiving high praise from motorists

HiQ is celebrating a major customer triumph after 98 per cent of its customers revealed that they would drive back to one of their centres or recommend them to a friend.

In a boost for the fast fit network, an independent survey revealed that nearly every one of the 612 sample customers questioned would happily return to a HiQ forecourt.

In a further show of strength, 91 per cent of drivers indicated that they were highly satisfied with their experience at a HiQ centre.

More than 75 per-cent of the HiQ fast fit network participated in the research.

The research was undertaken by Midlands based data capture specialists Connect Direct who were commissioned to measure customer standards in the HiQ fast fit network.

The research programme, referred to as HiQ’s ‘mirror hanger’ campaign, took place between November and December 2009.

The news strengthens HiQ’s claim of being the ‘fast fit network you can be sure of’ and comes on the back of some encouraging 2009 trading results.

In the first 12 months of opening as a fully franchised operation, retail turnover was up in double digit figures, average ticket value rose by more than 5 per cent and retail footfall increased by more than 8 per cent.

HiQ Retail Director Juergen Titz said: “The results are extremely encouraging for us, but we know that there is still a lot of work still to do.

“Our strategy is to change the face of the fast fit sector and become the fast fit network you can be sure of’

“Customer service is absolutely paramount in this strategy and we continue to set rigorous standards on a monthly basis to keep us ahead of our competitors.

“Our strength lies in the fact that we are a national brand with the peace of mind of having ‘local heroes’ in the community carrying out the work.”

For more information about HiQ click on http://www.hiqonline.co.uk/

Monday 22 February 2010

Leading motoring lawyer calls for new drivers to curb their speed

One of the UK’s leading motoring lawyers is calling for new drivers to slow down, drive more carefully and stop using their mobile phones at the wheel or face the possibility of joining the thousands of other recently passed drivers who have to take their tests again.

Catherine Junor, a partner at Higgs & Sons, the largest legal practice in the Black Country, counts high profile sports personalities, professionals and senior business leaders amongst her clients. Increasingly, her clients are asking her to act for their children who have recently passed their tests.

“Since 2007, 63,101 newly qualified drivers have gone on to lose their licence, within two years of passing their test.

“The number of new drivers whose licences have been revoked under the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act is a staggering figure. Many new drivers are teenagers and as well as advising them to curb their behaviour at the wheel, I would call on parents and guardians to also be mindful of what kind of cars newly qualified drivers are using.”

Many parents may not be aware that in the two years following passing their driving test, it only takes six points for a newly qualified driver to have their licence revoked. The need to take your test again can hold huge consequences for people who require their vehicle for work or studying. In addition, a court case is the last thing someone needs who is just starting at University or on the career ladder.

Catherine said: “Revocation of a driving licence is not always a foregone conclusion. I would call on newly qualified drivers, parents and guardians, to ensure the right legal support is in place to avoid becoming just another number.”

To find out more you can contact Catherine directly on 0845 111 5050.

Gold medal winning car for olympic hopeful gymnast

Alan Day Volkswagen is giving practical support to one of Great Britain’s top Olympic hopefuls as he trains for 2012.

Silver medal-winning gymnast, Daniel Keating, has been given a new Volkswagen Polo by the retailer to help him on his journey to success as he travels to training and competition events.

Daniel joins a growing list of Alan Day Ambassadors – high profile sporting personalities and organisations such as Darren Gough, Saracens and Les Ferdinand – who help the Volkswagen dealership in their annual programme of community and fundraising activities, and the Volkswagen retailer is currently considering local events for Daniel to take part in.

Paul Tanner, Managing Director, from Alan Day Volkswagen, said: “Renowned for its dynamic performance, stylish looks and superior fuel efficiency, we believed the new Polo was the ideal vehicle to support Daniel in his preparation for major competitions.

“We have been impressed by Daniel’s undoubted talent and dedication and we are honoured to sponsor him by providing a car with qualities that reflects his skills – flexibility, strength, balance and control.

“What’s more, as the new Polo has just been selected and European Car of the Year 2010, we thought it entirely appropriate that a budding Olympic gold medallist should drive the car currently on the top step of the motoring podium.”

Daniel Keating won the World Championships All Around silver medal at the O2 Arena in October 2009, to add to the silver he took at the Senior European championship in Italy earlier in the year, along with a bronze on the pommel horse. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Daniel competed in the All Around final and finished ninth on the pommel horse.

Alan Day, which has sites in Southgate, Hampstead, and the City of London, is a family-owned business that has been delivering the highest levels of customer service to its customers since 1972.

New Polo, the fifth generation of the supermini, is the most technically advanced version in its 34 year history, but it remains true to the brand's core values of safety, reliability, quality and value for money.

Despite the increase in size, the Polo is lighter than the model it replaces leading to improved fuel economy and emissions.

The new Polo is available to order from Alan Day now with prices starting at £10,035.

The Car of the Year is an international award, judged by a panel of senior motoring journalists across Europe. The panel aims to give an expert, independent view of the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months.

For more information contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email sue@connect-group.com

Top technician reaches new heights

A van technician from Wolsey Volkswagen in Ipswich is celebrating after reaching the top of his profession.

Matt Lankester (39) from Martlesham, recently gained his master technician status after completing an intensive on-the-job training and assessment programme through the Volkswagen Academy.

Specialising in commercial vehicles, Matt will pass on his expertise to his colleagues within the growing van division at Wolsey.

Matt joined the Sproughton Road retailer as a qualified technician having formerly specialised in trucks for 10 years, from apprentice level, with Mercedes Benz. His commercial vehicle expertise uniquely placed him in the ideal position to develop the business to meet customers’ needs.

As part of his graduation, Matt was taken on a two day trip to the Volkswagen factory in Hanover. Commenting on this course, Matt said: “We understand the importance of keeping customers’ vans fully operational, therefore the increased knowledge I have gained from my training will ensure we can offer the very best service to our customers.

“It was an added bonus to be taken to Hanover and a most enjoyable two days.”

Wolsey Van Centre brand manager, Tim Hargraves, added: “Matt is thoroughly professional in his job and this qualification is reward for his efforts.

“His colleagues will certainly benefit from working with a technician of this calibre.”

For more information contact Sue Foster on 01902 714 957 or sue@connect-group.com

Car dealer gets in gear for fashion show

Cardiff’s leading motor dealership Sinclair Volkswagen is revving up to support The Show – the first ever Breast Cancer Care fundraising fashion show to be held in Wales.

The catwalk event, taking place at Cardiff City Hall on 24 February, joins the London and Scotland Shows in celebrating fashion and fundraising.

Charity supporters attending the event will be in with a chance of winning a night in a top luxury hotel and the use of a stunning Volkswagen Eos two-door convertible for May Bank Holiday weekend in a live auction both prizes sponsored by Sinclair Volkswagen Cardiff.

Helen Griffiths, fundraiser for Breast Cancer Care Cymru, said: “We are very grateful to Sinclair Volkswagen for donating these fabulous prizes and really appreciate their generous support.

“We are so excited to be bringing The Show to Cardiff. The event has been tremendously successful in London and Scotland and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring it to Wales.

“All of the models taking part in the fashion show have had a diagnosis of breast cancer so, in addition to raising funds and awareness, the message of the event is one of hope – there is life after breast cancer and you can still feel sexy and glamorous, even after surgery.”

The Show event is supported by women and men who have experienced a diagnosis of breast cancer and share the same determination to radiate beauty, energy and style in spite of their breast cancer experience.

Richard Seaward, brand manager for Sinclair Volkswagen Cardiff, added: “We are honoured to be able to support this very worthy cause by sponsoring the star prizes and hope that the event is a huge success, raising significant funds for Breast Cancer Care.”

The prize includes the use of a Volkswagen Eos from 1-3May1, as well as an overnight stay for two people at the prestigious Hurst Hotel on the Marsh, Llangharne2, including champagne on arrival, breakfast, afternoon tea and a three-course evening meal. Guests are also able to enjoy the hotel’s indoor pool and gym facilities.

The last few remaining tickets for The Show are available at £80 each or bookable as a table of ten for £800 from the Breast Cancer Care special events team on 020 7960 3554.

For further information call Sue Foster on 01902 714957 / 07850 274889 or email suefoster@connect-group.com

Thursday 18 February 2010


Plymouth’s Volkswagen retailer, Murray, has boosted its senior management team with the appointment of a new business manager.

Alan Hayward has been promoted at the Millbay Road site after two years as sales executive with the retailer.

The 50-year-old began his automotive career in 1991, but has over 30 years’ experience in a sales environment. Alan has worked for a number of manufacturers and next year will celebrate 20 years in the motor industry.

He said: “I’m delighted to be taking on this role and look forward to growing the business.

“My focus is on providing a service customers expect from such a prestigious brand and company.

“I’m grateful to Murray Volkswagen for giving me this opportunity to develop my career.”

Kevin Murray, brand manager for Murray Volkswagen, said: “Alan is very ambitious and has already demonstrated a superb track record during his time in Plymouth.

“We believe he will make a significant impact on the team and customers during this challenging time in the automotive industry.”

Wednesday 17 February 2010


An Aylesbury man has been presented with £1,000 by Chiltern Railways after a survey to find out what the region’s residents would do with a spare £1,000.

David Rickard spotted Chiltern Railway’s survey on the rail company’s Twitter account and decided to answer the short questionnaire in which respondents could be in with a chance of winning the £1,000.

He says “I was really surprised to have won the £1,000 and it couldn’t have come at a better time. In the survey I said that I would save the cash. Now that I have received the £1,000 it will go straight into the bank as I am currently saving to buy a house and this will make a big difference.”

Chiltern Railways posted the survey question “What would you do with a spare £1,000?” to highlight the fact that rail commuters from the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire border area travelling to London can save over £1,000 a year on the cost of a season ticket.

The survey results revealed that over a third of respondents (37 per cent) would rather spend a grand on a holiday than save it or pay off debts. However, 28 per cent showed their caring side by offering to treat the family or put the money towards helping others.

Chiltern Railways spokesperson Emma Gascoigne says: "We’re delighted that the £1,000 prize has been put to great use and hope that David manages to find his dream house soon.”
A Chiltern Railways Season ticket valid for travel from Wendover to Marylebone , including a parking, offers savings of £1,070 compared to travel from Tring to Euston. In addition, Chiltern Railways season ticket holders can enjoy free weekend travel anywhere on the Chiltern Railways network.

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For further media information please contact the Chiltern Railways press office on 020 7333 3014. Alternatively, please call Emma Gascoigne on 07771 668793 or mailto: press@chilternrailways.co.uk.

Notes to editors:

1. Chiltern Railways is working to create a mainline between the West Midlands/Warwickshire/Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire and London, with journey times to London cut by 20%
2. Chiltern Railways runs into London Marylebone, one of the most attractive stations in London. Marylebone is within walking distance of Oxford Street, London Zoo and Madame Tussauds and with great tube connections
3. Chiltern Railways was the first train company to introduce tickets by text message sent direct to your mobile phone
4. Chiltern Railways trains are some of the most punctual in Britain, with 95% of trains arriving on time, leading to passenger satisfaction of 91%
5. Chiltern Railways is owned by Deutsche Bahn AG and is part of DB Regio, Deutsche Bahn’s local and regional service provider.
6. Our awarding winning website - www.chilternrailways.co.uk - has full timetable information, as well as a summary of Chiltern Railways’ great value fares and destination guides to give you inspiration where to go and money off a number of attractions along our line.
7. Chiltern Railways now have a new hotel booking service on their website powered by hotel.info, which gives customers a best price guarantee and access to 210,000 hotels worldwide.
8. Select here to become a fan of Chiltern Railways on Facebook.
9. Select here to follow Chiltern Railways on Twitter


Derby County FC mascot, Rammie, will take to the road in a brand new personalised vehicle, following a two year sponsorship deal with Imperial Commercials Van Centre.

The Derby-based Volkswagen dealer has supplied Rammie with a Caddy van to support his growing number of public appearances in the area.

It is the first time that Rammie has received such a sponsorship and the brightly coloured Caddy even gets an exclusive place next to the club directors in the West Stand car park.

Rammie is regularly asked to attend school activities, charity events and local attractions in addition to birthdays and weddings. The new vehicle will enable the Derby County star to safely transport his inflatable goal and equipment to future events.

Derby County CEO and President, Tom Glick, said: “We are very grateful to Imperial Commercials for their commitment and support. Previously Rammie had to struggle to get all of his gear to the events but now he can safely travel in style.

“The spacious Volkswagen Caddy will accommodate all Rammie’s equipment and the striking livery and alloy wheels will certainly make it easy for fans to spot him on the roads.”

Matt Lawrenson, regional director of Imperial Commercials, said: “We feel it’s important to support our local clubs and businesses and as big Derby County fans there is no better way to show our support?”

Picture Caption 01: L-r, Matthew Lawrenson , regional director of Imperial Commercials, Rammie, Matt Lee, Imperial Commercial sales manager and Nigel Clough, manager of Derby County FC.

For further information please contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email suefoster@connect-group.com

Tuesday 16 February 2010

HiQ Halifax promising revolution in car care

Motorists in Halifax are being promised a ‘revolution in car care’ after a fast fit centre in the town officially re-opened following a £500,000 refurbishment.

HiQ, based in Horton Street opposite the Railway Station, has also created 2 new jobs following a radical renovation in an attempt to position itself as a store that every driver can be sure of.

Old corporate branding has been replaced with modern, contemporary signage, and comfy, leather sofas are in place in the reception area, along with a plasma screen TV, WiFi internet connection and complimentary hot drinks.

HiQ centre manager Roger Carter said: “Having to maintain your vehicle can be inconvenient but our aim is to keep the disruption to your day to a minimum.

“Our service is friendly and efficient, and you are very welcome to relax in our waiting area or catch up on your e-mails if you choose to wait while we take care of your car.”

The customer car park has been completely relayed, a new workshop floor installed and the roof has also been re-built in a project that has been 6 months in the making.

HiQ Franchisee North Eastern Tyre & Exhausts has completed the work and hopes that the new-look will stimulate more sales in 2010, after already performing well during the economic downturn.

Centre manager Roger Carter added: “This centre really does set the benchmark for others to follow and we have already received a number of glowing endorsements from customers and passers-by.

“We offer a drive-thru style service for motorists, in one of the most contemporary, stylish environments possible.

“The renovation has made a huge difference to both the staff and customers. With our trained fitters, mechanics and MOT tester thoroughly enjoying working in a smart workshop with the latest equipment and tools.

“Many new customers have driven in for the first time as the centre is now much brighter, more welcoming and visible to passers by, and we can offer them superb stock range and excellent prices”.

North Eastern Tyres, which runs 15 HiQ fast fit centres in the north of England, said the development would amaze motorists who often associate fast fit centres with unclean, unwelcoming places.

The HiQ network is attempting to revolutionise the fast fit sector by creating transparency and peace of mind for customers, after a Which? survey found that customers have a 73 per cent dissatisfaction with service in the automotive industry.

The HiQ network’s new positioning - ‘fast fit you can be sure of’ – is set to become more apparent in the coming months, with more investment allocated for improved customer environments in 2010.

For more information about HiQ and its range of vehicle maintenance services, please click on http://www.hiqonline.co.uk/

Thursday 11 February 2010

Cupid aims arrow at HiQ network!

Roses are red, violets are blue, and if your car needs a new tyre this Valentines weekend, there will be a love sonnet especially for you.

Participating HiQ centres will be penning love poems on the side of every tyre or windscreen to coincide with Valentine’s Day, as technicians prepare to get loved up.

In the novel show of affection, HiQ fast fitters will write their very own love messages, with a pound from each sale going to the company’s official charity, Breast Cancer Care.

HiQ centres will add a uni POSCA marker pen to its toolkit for the weekend, which will allow staff to write on any surface and will come in handy when they start to get in touch with their feminine sides.

HiQ’s marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “Cupid’s arrow will definitely be on the forecourt this weekend, but we just need to make sure he doesn’t puncture the tyres in the process!

“By offering this heartfelt personal touch when customers purchase a new tyre, we will warm up customers’ cars as well as their love lives.”

HiQ is trying to revolutionise the fast fit industry by reaching out to more female drivers, offering them a service that they can always be sure of.

The HiQ network raised £50,000 for Breast Cancer Care in 2009 and hopes that its Valentines weekend idea will raise more funds this year, as it strives to hit the £100,000 target.

He concluded: “We hope that the drivers will enjoy our love sonnets. Our technicians have been getting quite emotional over their messages all week!”

For more information about the HiQ fast fit network click on www.hiqonline.co.uk


A Bristol van centre has issued advice to drivers on avoiding expensive damage to vans caused by potholes.

With complaints about potholes reaching unprecedented levels, Heritage Volkswagen Van Centre has recorded a 100% increase in damage to customers’ vehicles.

The site is now urging all commercial vehicle drivers to be aware of the dangers on the region’s roads.

Charles Roberts, Heritage Volkswagen’s brand manager, said: “Hitting a pothole can damage the tyres, wheels, suspension or steering. It could even cause an accident.

“Commercial vehicles are particularly vulnerable as they are heavier than normal cars, and often carry loads.

“The most common repair work is on broken wheel rims, split tyres and wheels forced out of alignment, causing steering problems.

“Drivers may not be aware if you hit a pothole that hasn’t been reported to the local council and damage your car, you can't claim against the council because they can say they didn't know about it.

“We’re advising drivers to inform the local council of any potholes, so they can be repaired and reduce the damage to other vehicles using the road.”

The AA backed the warning, and said that emergency road maintenance funding was required to stop crumbling roads costing more in compensation and accidents.

AA President Edmund King said this week: “The pothole season has come early this year. Drivers are relieved when the snow and ice has gone, but shouldn’t be complacent.

“Due to the severe winter, it could be a record year for potholes – one million scars of the worst winter in 30 years.”

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Change at the top for Wayside Van Centre

A new management team has taken the helm at Milton Keynes’ Volkswagen Van Centre, creating a truly local approach to supporting businesses in the area.

The Bletchley Van Centre, part of the Wayside Group, has invested in its new team with the appointment of three key individuals from the area bringing with them over 60 years of automotive experience to the site.

Duncan Sands (46) from Furzton has been appointed to lead the team as brand director for the Wayside Group and head of business, having worked at Volkswagen Group’s Head Office within the Commercial Vehicle for over 19 years. Duncan’s national dealership experience provides him with the skills and passion to deliver exceptional customer service and business development.

Duncan’s new management team includes Mark Stevens (38) from Clophill, who has been appointed as retail sales manager and Paul Robertson (37) from Tattenhoe, who has been appointed to the role of fleet sales manager.

Mark has spent the past 15 years successfully selling commercial vehicles for several manufacturers and will be sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with the showroom sales team. Boasting over 20 years of automotive know how, Paul has worked for high profile brands, such as Mercedes, advising fleet managers at international level on how to get the most out of their commercial vehicles.

The new recruits will join recently promoted Aftersales Manager Buck Rogers (28) from Willen who has worked at Wayside Van Centre for over 12 years. Having worked his way through the Van Centre, starting as an apprentice technician and later becoming a service advisor, Buck has established excellent working relationships with many customers and local businesses.

Speaking of the new team Duncan said: “Our customers can be confident that they will receive the very best service from our staff here at Wayside. With our new team now in place, we are completely committed to providing a first class service. Whether our customers are looking at buying new or used vans, buying parts or accessories, or using our fully equipped workshop for service or repair.

“We really understand that their vans are tools of their trade and we are determined to provide a service that recognises this. Our customers operate vans to support their business, if the van is off the road, their business stops and we understand this”.

“Our team is now in place to drive our business forward, making sure that all of our customers go away completely satisfied, whatever their reason for visiting or getting in touch.”

For more information from the Wayside Van Centre, visit http://www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/van-centres/wayside/, call into the Van Centre on Bilton Road, Bletchley or phone 01908 366300.

For further information please contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email suefoster@connect-group.com.

Higgs opens doors to largest legal practice in the Black Country

This week Higgs & Sons officially opens its doors for business at its new prestigious Waterfront Business Park address.

The leading law firm has already given over 300 of its clients and contacts a sneak preview of the new premises at two high profile launch event evenings.

The move creates the largest legal practice in the Black Country, with 76 lawyers and a further 80 support staff relocating to the new premises in Brierley Hill’s Waterfront.

Higgs has spent the last five months refurbishing the new 30,000 square foot facility to create leading edge headquarters for its growing team and clients. The firm worked closely with fit out specialists Morgan Lovell and designers Grant Thorp on the new building. The deal was one of the largest commercial property transactions of 2009 and was supported by NatWest.

Ian Shovlin, senior partner, said at the official opening of the new building: “In bringing over 150 of our team together under one roof, we can now offer all services, meetings and events from one fantastic location.

“2010 is the 135th anniversary of Higgs & Sons and I can think of no more fitting tribute than to take the firm to the next stage in its development.

“The new facility means that our specialist lawyers can continue to offer clients the very best legal advice but now in a purpose designed building which not only meets our requirements today but also as we grow in the future.

“We now have the premises to match our great team and we look forward to offering a complete service to all our business and private clients at our new home for many years to come.”

Higgs signed a 10 year lease on the new building. The move will bring together Higgs’ team which is based across offices in Brierley Hill and Stourbridge. The firm will keep its presence in Kingswinford to serve the local community.
Picture shows Ian Shovlin, Senior Parter, Higgs & Sons

Car mad chef lives the dream

A former chef has found the recipe to success by turning his passion for cars into a career for the future.

Alec Hodges from Barnstaple switched careers and embarked on an intensive training programme to become a fully-qualified Volkswagen parts advisor.

The 29 year old joined Barnstaple Volkswagen after deciding his heart was more in cars than in food. His course entailed a series of on and off-site workshops and assessments through the Volkswagen Training Academy before achieving the parts accreditation status.

Speaking of his qualification Alec said: “I have always had a passion for cars

I’m really grateful to Barnstaple Volkswagen for giving me the opportunity to pursue my ambition.

“Making the switch from the kitchen to the showroom has been hard work as I undertook a series of job roles to achieve my present position. This qualification has given me further knowledge and skills of the Volkswagen brand which will assist me in driving my motoring career forward.”

Alec joined the Braunton Road Volkswagen team in 2004 as a valeter. He undertook various roles including servicing and warranty clerk until a suitable trainee post became available within the Parts division.

Barnstaple Volkswagen service manager, John Leith, added: “Alec’s qualification is credit to his hard work and determination to succeed. He is a prime example of the importance of pursuing a career that will drive you forward.”

For more information contact Sue Foster or Becki Oake on 01902 714 957 or suefoster@connect-group.com / becki@connect-group.com

Greener motoring with Autogas LPG

Road pollution is a major concern for many people and councils across the country have implemented measures to try and reduce harmful emissions such as traffic calming, car sharing, congestion charging schemes and in some cases, areas prohibiting all traffic.

However, a far simpler way to reduce the pollution from road vehicles would be to switch to Liquid Petroleum Gas, or LPG, as Autogas’ Emma Bartle explains: “Motorists can rest assured that going green is made easy with LPG. It represents a realistic alternative to petrol and diesel, with more than 14.6 million vehicles worldwide making the most of its environmental and financial benefits.

“In the UK the popularity of LPG is increasing as motorists look to help the environment and reduce their carbon emissions. However, the environmental impact from road vehicles is far deeper than just CO2; vehicles running on LPG do produce far less carbon dioxide, but they also emit far fewer of the other harmful emissions such as oxides of nitrogen and microscopic particles, known as PM10s, which are found in diesel and petrol and have a damaging effect on the environment(1).”

By choosing to run an LPG-powered vehicle, as well as helping the environment, motorists can reap the benefits of using a cost-effective fuel by enjoying spending on average 40% less on fuel. And in most cases, the cost of conversion can be recovered in less than two years(2).

In addition, motorists in and around London can also apply for exemption from the congestion charge and all LPG vehicle owners can anticipate increased residual vehicle values.

There are now more than 1,400 public access LPG refuelling sites with the majority of these on petrol forecourts. Autogas Limited, a joint venture between Calor and Shell, currently supplies around 220 outlets in the UK. A full list can be found at www.autogas.ltd.uk.

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Notes to editors
Follow AutogasLPG on Twitter

(1) Vehicles running on LPG produce 17 per cent less carbon dioxide than petrol and 2 per cent less than diesel, but also 120 per cent less oxides of nitrogen than petrol and a staggering 2,000 per cent less than diesel, and up to 120 times less small particle (PM10) emissions than diesel vehicles.

(2) Converting a vehicle to run on LPG can be done quickly and easily by an approved converter and costs around £1,800. Based on current fuel prices and an annual mileage of 20,000 miles it would take around 22 months to recoup this initial cost. (Payback period equates to 22.03 months based on official combined consumption figures published on www.renault.co.uk for 2.0 16V Laguna Sport Tourer assuming a 20% reduction for LPG. National average fuel prices taken from www.fleetnews.co.uk.) In order to calculate potential fuel savings, Autogas has made a savings calculator available on its web site: www.autogas.ltd.uk.

Tuesday 9 February 2010


A well-known west London retailer is on the move after outgrowing its current home.

After 40 successful years based on Kings Street, Chiswick Volkswagen, is relocating to a new site at Gillette Corner on Great West Road, with the refit costing approximately £400,000 to complete.

As part of the relocation the retailer is looking to employ up to ten new staff and change its name to West London Volkswagen, reflecting the area it will occupy.

Chiswick’s and soon to be West London’s brand manager, Shaun Kirby said: “It is a very exciting time for everyone associated with the business.

“The new larger premise represents a huge investment in local people and provides a stable working environment for employees.

“We will be relocating in stages, with the full move complete by March.”

The 1300m², new site is twice the size of the old Chiswick site and initially will house four highly trained technicians. This is expected to grow to ten when the centre is fully up and running, with new jobs likely to be created.

Shaun added: “One of the most exciting changes about the move is the Gillette Corner site will offer the area a fully integrated state-of-the-art Volkswagen approved service and parts centre. Later on in the year the centre will also be able to offer MOTs to customers.

“The new showroom has a contemporary feel, allowing customers to view the full range of Volkswagen passenger vehicles in a friendly and relaxed environment.

“Customers will also have the option to browse over 35 used cars outside, whilst being protected from the weather by overhead canopies.

“I’m looking forward to seeing customers old and new at the new premises and hope to offer many years of good quality service as we did at our old home.”

The move will be finalised with a VIP event, which is scheduled for March.

Visit the new West London site from Monday 8th February on Great West Road, Brentford or telephone 020 8996 5380 to book an appointment.

Friday 5 February 2010

HiQ dealing with a battery of breakdowns

The HiQ fast fit network is promising to provide some care and attention to motorists’ car batteries, after reporting a surge in sales during the freezing start to 2010.

For the month of January alone, the network dealt with 36 per cent more flat battery breakdowns than December 2009, and 32 per cent more than January 2009.

The HiQ network believes that January has been the busiest in its history in relation to battery related problems, as scores of motorists call in for emergency help.

And now, in an attempt to help drivers stay away from a trip to the forecourt in future, HiQ is offering some tips to prolong the life of their car batteries.

Participating centres will also offer free checks, complete with a clean and greasing of terminals.

HiQ’s marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “Battery malfunctions are very common, particularly during the cold weather that we have been experiencing.

“We would encourage motorists to avoid keeping car lights and headlights on for a long time when not necessary. Also, if they turn off the air conditioning system when not needed, the battery will not be weakened as much.

“We would like to offer free battery checks, because a build-up of rust and corrosion can lead to problems in start-ups as a result of a loss of electrical contact. We can check this.

“If any powdery layers can be seen forming around the battery terminals, then action should be taken.”

HiQ is attempting to position itself as the fast fit network of trust and recently celebrated its first anniversary as a fully franchised network.

By the end of 2010, the network will attempt to grow to 185 centres, all of which boasting new, award winning corporate identity.

For more information about HiQ and its attempts to become the fast fit network of trust, click on http://www.hiqonline.co.uk/

Thursday 4 February 2010

Act now - CGT rates can only rise says tax specialist

Leading Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons is urging shareholders in private companies to take advantage of current low Capital Gains Tax rates, ahead of anticipated rises.

With CGT rates as low as 10-18 per cent, now is the perfect time to seriously consider succession planning, according to Susheel Gupta, partner at Higgs & Sons.

Susheel said: “We have already seen income attacked with the new 50 per cent rate, which comes into force in April, and further increases are already announced for April 2011.

“The budget deficit is expected to exceed £170 billion. We can expect more tax rises in the pre-election budget due this March and, almost certainly, significant tax rises in a post election budget. Accordingly, the relatively low capital gains tax rates currently enjoyed are an easy target for the Chancellor.”

Susheel suggests where shareholders have a succession route already in mind, be it to other family members or to a management team, they must ask how long will CGT rates stay as they are.

He adds: “Where the price is right we can structure the deal to crystallise clients’ capital gains tax liability at the current low rates. In six months time it may be too late.”

Similarly, other simple tax planning measures should be taken to mitigate their tax exposure, advises Susheel. “Business owners are facing a double whammy where turnover is down but tax rates up, but there are simple measures they can take to help them through this situation.”

Ways to minimise tax exposure include:
· Ensuring the correct business structure is in place to maximise effective tax rates at business, shareholder and employee level
· Accelerating income payments, dividends and/or bonus payments to fall before 6 April 2010 (i.e. whilst the top rate of income tax remains at 40 per cent)
· Where possible, dividing share ownership between family members or other business entities to maximise tax reliefs that may be available
· Keeping key staff incentivised through the use of tax efficient share schemes while cash flow is tight.

Susheel emphasises how tax planning in the current climate has never been more important, with a number of measures available to businesses to save money. Companies wanting to find out more can contact Susheel Gupta at Higgs & Sons on 01384 342 100.

Wednesday 3 February 2010


A Greater Manchester van centre has issued a safety warning to motorists following the recent ‘Big Freeze’.

The region’s official Volkswagen’s Van Centre has been inundated with motorists whose windscreen washer pumps and jets have failed during the cold weather, because they haven’t had the correct additives in their washer bottles; leading to many being unable to see safely through the windscreen.

In 2009 the centre fixed just six pumps or jets that had either stopped working or had blown a fuse, but in the first three weeks of 2010 over 25 have been repaired or fitted with a new fuse.

“The prolonged cold weather had led to an astonishing number of drivers experiencing pumps or washer jets freezing and either breaking or the fuse blowing,” said Jim Hobson, general manager, Volkswagen Van Centre Manchester.

“This can lead to windscreens becoming almost impossible to see through and an obvious safety hazard for motorists.

“To alleviate future problems in freezing conditions, motorists simply need to ensure the washer bottle is filled with a mixture of water and the correct additives.

“This should ensure the pump, pipes and jets work whatever the temperature, giving a safe clear screen for drivers to see through.”

With further cold weather forecast Jim is advising all motorists check their washer bottles are filled with correct levels of water and additives.

He added: “Any van drivers unsure about the correct levels can call into the Volkswagen Van Centre and one of our trained service advisors will help.”

For more information simply go to www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/van-centres/manchester/

Monday 1 February 2010


Nightclub and bar operator, Brook Leisure, has substituted its traditional wood flooring in favour for vinyl in a move to improve the venues longevity without sacrificing its stylish interiors.

The Barnsley based chain, which manages over 20 bars and clubs across the region, turned to Amtico International for its latest refurbishment projects.

The late night operator provides revellers with Cuban themed bars based on the street parties of Havana, aptly named Che Bar after the legendary Che Guevara. Its CoCo nightclubs, with capacities of up to 1,200, offers a more sophisticated and stylish environment for clubbers.

Durability, low maintenance and cost were key factors in the decision to switch from its traditional wooden flooring as Brook Leisure’s Design Manager, Glyn Dyer, explains.

He said: “Our venues have to withstand a high footfall and therefore we operate an approximate seven year refurbishment programme for each of the sites to ensure the standards are maintained.

“Previously we have used real timber to create the desired warm look but the wear and tear is really not good. Spillages and heeled shoes result in the floor looking scratched and dull with warping and black marks emerging from areas not able to dry out well enough. An annoyance for the cleaners, club managers and ultimately the company’s reputation.

“The Spacia range from Amtico International was very comprehensive, its extensive wood range captures the characteristics of natural wood but unlike the real thing doesn’t dent, fade or warp over time creating a spectacular finish night after night.”

The unique multi performance system delivers unrivalled durability and unbeatable appearance retention. Its urethane surface provides a toughened and scuff resistance surface while its performance layers are impregnated with ceramic for improved slip resistance, all crucial for the leisure industry.

The warm tones of Antique Oak, Walnut Chocolate and Ebony Wood clearly define the separate areas of the club, “The Spacia range inspired us to be more creative than before, creating a stunning appearance which we then enhanced with lighting.” added Glyn.
The sparkling metallic effect of Urban Metal Frost from the Amtico collection was chosen for the dance floors in the CoCo venues. Strategically positioned lights created an impressive reflective effect for dancers.

Approximately 1500 square meters of Amtico flooring was used across the three clubs in Bradford, Barnsley and Blackpool. “We aim to complete our refurbishments within six to eight weeks as a closed club is not good for business. The speed of installation over our previous timber flooring enforced our decision to choose Amtico.

“We worked with Amtico installers AAG Investments Ltd for the Barnsley and Blackpool sites and Contract Floors UK Ltd in Bradford. Both companies were recommended by Amtico International, their swift installation comfortably fitted into our schedule and we couldn’t fault their craftsmanship or service.”

Each venue has seen a reduction in its maintenance costs. “The flooring not only looks good but is easy to maintain. Cleaning is faster and simple and unlike natural floors we don’t have to sand or re-varnish to revive its beauty. The floor is looking just as good today as the day it was installed.”

“Our first experience with Amtico International has been very positive and we would certainty consider using their products again for our future refurbishments. Their extensive portfolio of flooring has inspired us to develop even more stunning new looks.”

Sian Lewis, UK Marketing Manager at Amtico International, said: “We are delighted to be working with Brook Leisure. Our versatile range has the highest levels of durability and performance making it ideal for the hospitality and leisure industry.”

Amtico International has 40 years’ experience in designing, engineering and manufacturing some of the most innovative and resilient flooring products in the world. The company delivers flooring solutions to industry and business as well as domestic environments.

For further information, please contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email suefoster@connect-group.com.


An aftersales specialist from Belfast Volkswagen has been recognised by the nation’s Motability drivers for her outstanding customer service.

Alison Apsley, from Isaac Agnew Volkswagen, was awarded the prestigious title of Northern Ireland’s Motability Aftersales Specialist, following a public vote from drivers of motability cars.

Having joined the Boucher Road retailer 11 years ago as a warranty and service administrator, Alison has dedicated the past five years to motability, helping to make customers’ motoring experiences more enjoyable and hassle-free.

The annual Motability Supplier Awards organised by The Motability Scheme recognises the very best individuals and dealerships across the UK.

The Motability scheme – run by not-for-profit organisation Motability – enables disabled people to use the government motability allowance to buy a new car at an affordable price, as well as have any necessary adaptations made.

Speaking of her delight at receiving the award, Alison said: “It was a lovely surprise to receive this award and a real honour to know that customers have voted for me”

Brian Robinson, Isaac Agnew’s managing director added: “ With over 6,000 motability customers Alison does a first-class job ensuring all their servicing and aftercare needs are met.

“Alison’s award is testament to her hard work and dedication and we are very pleased to have her as part of our team.”

For more information on the Motability service at Isaac Agnew please call 028 9023 4477.

Picture caption: Alison Apsley presents her award.

For more information contact Sue Foster on 01902 714 957 or suefoster@connect-group.com