Virtual world no one predicted: IAAF conference 2020

Published:  08 December, 2020

 The first-ever virtual IAAF conference took place last week, and took an in-depth look at the opportunities and threats for the aftermarket in a post-Coronavirus and post-Brexit world. The IAAF’s new Pride of the Aftermarket awards was also held as part of the event, with a number of notable sector names bagging gongs.

The ‘IAAF Virtual Conference, The Year No One Predicted’, was held on Thursday (3 December) and was opened by Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief executive.

Keynote speaker, David Smith, who has worked for The Sunday Times as Economics Editor for more than 30 years, then provided an overview of global economic recovery, looking at the effects of unemployment, the rolling car output, the hangover of COVID-19 and more.

Quentin le Hetet from GIPA then went on to interpret the long-term effects over the next few years.

 Members then heard from Glen Shepherd at Glen Callum Associates, and Andy Lees from PG Automotive on the subject of sector recruitment, before Ben’s Health and Wellbeing Director Rachel Clift provided an insight into the impact of Coronavirus. The number of individuals reaching out for support has increased dramatically during the pandemic, with the charity fielding 9,000 enquiries and 2,500 cases, with a 95% increase in helpline enquiries.

Next up was Ronan McDonagh from FIGIEFA, who outlined some of the challenges that the aftermarket will face with the UNECE legislation on cyber security.

Mike Smallbone, Head of Membership development at IAAF, concluded the conference by providing a round-up of the federation’s activity in 2020, while outlining plans for 2021.

Commenting on the conference, Wendy Williamson said: “Despite this year’s conference looking very different to what our members are used to, I’m delighted that we were still able to come together and celebrate the hard work and commitment of dedicated aftermarket businesses throughout such an unprecedented year.

“Although there are other changes and challenges to come in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic, we look forward to facing them head on and urge the industry to continue to gear up for change and efficiently adapt to overcome any threats and maximise the opportunities ahead.”

The conference concluded with the IAAF’s Pride of the Aftermarket awards, presented by IAAF president Terry Knox, with each winner coming on screen to ‘accept’ their award. IAAF members were invited to nominate exceptional performances of companies and individuals during the COVID-19 crisis by completing an entry form via the IAAF website. All entries were then shortlisted by a judging panel, made up of a select group from Board and Council members. The general public was then able to vote for their winner online throughout November.

The winners were as follows:

Outstanding supplier during the COVID-19 crisis: Schaeffler Group

Outstanding distributor during the COVID-19 crisis: Alliance Automotive Group

Outstanding service member during the COVID-19 crisis: Lawgistics UK

Outstanding individual during the COVID-19 crisis: Melissa Portman-Lewis from TM Factors

Outstanding innovation during the COVID-19 crisis: E-Motive – eBay NHS PPE portal

Commenting on the awards, Wendy said: “The independent aftermarket as a whole has been a shining example of how an entire industry can quickly adapt to ensure the safety of both staff and customers, while continuing to meet demand and keep vehicles safely on the road throughout the pandemic.”

She added: “These winners are a credit to our industry and have not only helped to keep the aftermarket on track during these unprecedented times, but have also gone out of their way to donate their time, money and resources to vital initiatives to protect our industry as well as others.”

To see Aftermarket’s full write-up of the IAAF Conference, go to

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