Richard Green, national director of SAMBRA
The South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA) has over the years been one of the strongest advocates for a free market strategy as well as the entrenchment of client’ ‘right of choice’ of the service provider.
We strongly support the Competition Commission’s new Guidelines for the Automotive aftermarket sector and the opportunity to open up the motor body repair sector specifically to allow greater freedom of choice.
The guidelines promote inclusive and fair allocation of repair work by insurers and will do away with any anti-competitive behaviour as well as broadening the pool of repairers’ significantly for consumers who now will have a much wider choice of approved accredited repairers within their geographic area. “As a sector, we strongly reject any bias, no matter what form it takes and has always robustly opposed any form of unfair business practice.
I am fully supportive of the standards and specification guidelines from OEMs, but has been lobbying for some time to ensure these are fair and equitable and are not restrictive in number. We must not lose the connection between the Motor Manufacturers and the Motor Body Repair industry, as the connection is essential to ensure continued skills development – without it repair quality will suffer, which is ultimately not in the interests of the consumer.
The guidelines for part suppliers is positive as the cost of premium vehicle parts is currently not sustainable and alternative parts manufacturers, which are able in many instances to produce body parts matching the specifications and quality of premium parts, have already made significant inroads into the genuine parts market. We have said in the past that unless OEMs produce creative and effective alternatives, the erosion of their original part market share will continue. An additional impact is an increase in effective repair technology which allows MBRs to repair panels that were previously replaced.
The guidelines which come into effect in July 2021 will ensure transparency, fair competition and market access for any/all motor body repairers’ that have attained the industry recognized SAMBRA’ grading. It is also essential that OEM approval standards are retained for repairs that require specialist technical knowledge and equipment. OEM’ need to open up their supplier base to paint companies as more local production is a necessity to encourage local investment, training and employment. Only a small percentage of paint and equipment supplied to the MBR market in South Africa is locally produced.
For the South African motor body repair sector which is struggling financially in the wake of Covid-19, these guidelines could not have come at a better time to stimulate growth. As an industry we are committed to working tirelessly with all our business partners to ensure a sustainable trading environment that benefits the consumer.