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Modern Claims Awards 2024: S&G Response in Conversation with Tom Hadfield, The Vella Group


Modern Claims Awards 2024: S&G Response in Conversation with Tom Hadfield, The Vella Group

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Ahead of the Modern Claims Awards 2024, Andy Whatmough – Managing Director of headline sponsor, S&G Response – sat down with Tom Hadfield, Commercial Director at The Vella Group, to discuss the challenges of our present day repair industry, the significance of training and apprenticeships in this sector, and the legacy of their well-deserved award recognition at last year’s event.


Q. Hi Tom! It’s great to sit down and speak with The Vella Group as winners of the Bodyshop of the Year category at last year’s Modern Claims Awards. The firm has also been shortlisted again this year – congratulations! How did that feel on the night, and what did it mean to you and the wider business?

A. Thanks! It was fantastic to win Bodyshop of the Year in 2023, and we were incredibly proud to receive the award. We have a strong relationship with Modern Insurance Magazine through our input on their Editorial Board, so it was amazing to be recognised as Bodyshop of the Year by their set of judges. Internally, we always share news of our award wins with the team; it’s a massive morale boost and is a testament to everyone’s commitment and hard work throughout the year.


Q. The repair market has been through some interesting challenges over the last couple of years. How have The Vella Group successfully navigated these choppy waters, and what are the top three issues facing the industry right now as you see it? 

A. We predict that the economic environment will continue to be a significant challenge, with consumers experiencing rising premiums, leading to policyholders purchasing policies with higher excess payments. Insurers and repairers are under pressure to control repair and policy costs in a period of high inflation. Navigating this challenge means being sensitive to costs while still providing consumers with safe and high-quality repairs.

Sustainability is also a key challenge. As more businesses move towards net-zero, we see this as a challenge that will evolve rapidly over the next few years. Repairability, green parts, and greener repair technologies are major talking points, and we anticipate this trend continuing. We are actively reviewing our business processes and working closely with partnered insurers and suppliers to ensure that we repair vehicles in the most sustainable way.

Lastly, and I know this is an issue which is frequently discussed, but I must say that the skills shortage remains a significant challenge for repairers. Wages continue to rise due to the limited supply of skilled staff, and we see apprenticeships and training the next generation as the only solution to this issue.


Q. The Vella Group are one of the most recognised brands in the UK bodyshop market. Do you have anything exciting coming up for the rest of 2024 / 2025?

A. Last year, we focused on aligning our business to be ready for growth in 2024 and beyond. We are planning to expand our footprint in 2024 and 2025, and whilst we can’t disclose specific details at this point, we hope to have news to share soon!

Aside from growth, sustainability and software are two major focus areas for The Vella Group. We are currently working on internal projects that we hope to share later in 2024.


Q. You are also shortlisted in the ‘Outstanding Commitment to Training and Apprenticeships’ category for 2024’s awards. Can you tell us why this important to The Vella Group?

A. We are incredibly excited to be shortlisted for this award. Training and apprenticeships have always been important to The Vella Group. In 2006, Karl Vella was awarded an MBE for his work on the WorldSkills program, and since then, we’ve continued to invest in training the next generation of talent. We believe training apprentices and technicians is the best way to address the skills crisis, and our Technical Training team does a fantastic job of training our technicians to ensure their skills are always up to date with the latest repair methods.


Q. As previous Modern Claims Awards winners, and knowing what you know about the unique tone of Modern Insurance Mag’s events, what are you most hoping to see on the night?

A. Having attended the Modern Claims Awards previously, we know we are in for a fantastic evening. The atmosphere is always unbeatable, and we are looking forward to catching up with people from across the industry… and hopefully winning and award or two!


The Modern Claims Awards will be held at The Rum Warehouse, Liverpool, on Thursday 18th April 2024.