J Haynes – The innovator

The Haynes brand is recognised across the world for its iconic ‘do-it-yourself’ manuals. Observe spoke to Haynes CEO and Oxford Brookes alumnus, J Haynes ’90, to find out how the company is bringing innovative products to the market.

The publishing industry has been revolutionised by digital technology in recent years. Customers who used to access a book or newspaper now expect instant access to information across multiple platforms. Changing consumer preferences are challenging even the most established and well-known publishers.

A company that is thriving in this environment is Haynes Publishing Group PLC, headed up by Chief Executive Officer and Oxford Brookes alumnus, J Haynes. The company was founded by his father John Haynes and is best known for its car and motorcycle manuals.

Working throughout the automotive supply chain

With headquarters in Yeovil, Somerset, the company has 298 employees and offices in eight countries. In September 2018 it reported a 12% rise in pre-tax profits to £2.9m, with turnover up 13% to £33.8m.

From its roots in publishing manuals that enable motorists to understand, maintain and repair their vehicles, Haynes has grown into a leading content, data and innovative solutions business in the automotive market. As well as the iconic vehicle manuals, there are other practical manuals, including subjects as diverse as calligraphy, the Millennium Falcon and the Fender Stratocaster guitar!

J explains that in addition to the trustworthy practical information in their print and online manuals, Haynes also works throughout the automotive supply chain. “We supply integrated data, analytics and solutions for the automotive aftermarket. We help fast fit garages, diagnostic equipment manufacturers and part distributors, professional mechanics and oil companies deliver services that help motorists.”

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Innovation and evolution

Developing and delivering new products and responding to customer demands are key to continued success and profitability and J is committed to evolving the company though the development of new customer-focused services and solutions.

“Close engagement with our customers, combined with a deep understanding of key trends and changes in the automotive market drive our focus on delivering new products and adapting existing ones,” says J.

“This is clearly demonstrated by the development of our professional and consumer offerings, and our recent acquisitions of OATS – with their oil and lubricants database, and E3 Technical – a Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) help desk, and vehicle repair and maintenance information platform.”

Internal investment

In addition to growth through acquisition, the company invests internally to create innovative new products and services that combine their unique content with big data and IT expertise. “Last year we spent £8.4M on the creation and development of content, data and solutions.”

“In collaboration with our largest UK customer we have recently used artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency and accuracy of VRM information.

“We’re committed to helping motorists by supporting our global customers. For instance we’ll expand our oil and lubricant coverage by adding a further 30 countries to our data sets over the next 12 months.

“Haynes will continue to support the international growth plans of our customers by increasing the number of languages in which our WorkshopData is provided.”

Over the past 12 months Haynes have added a further four languages to their professional WorkshopData service, bringing the total to 27.

J explains that to facilitate this level of growth, it has been important to invest in their IT infrastructure and skilled people. “Presently we manage 100 terabytes (TB) of data to serve over 60,000 users across Europe, who generate over 20 million data transactions a day.”

The core mission remains the same

And the future? J says that the Haynes core mission will remain the provision of practical information and guidance that gives drivers choice about how they look after their cars. It’s also about developing integrated data solutions and insights to create efficiency, competition and consumer choice in the professional automotive market.

Looking at how the company has evolved in this challenging market, it is inevitable that innovating to meet the needs of existing and new customers will be at the core of its future success.

Words by Wendy Jacob
Images supplied by J Haynes

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