The bodyshop repair industry will reach crisis point by 2005 when it will no longer be able to handle the volume of work required, warns an independent research consultant.

Speaking at a conference organised by the bodyshop network ABS, Chris Oakham said the number of repairs a year will increase by seven per cent within the next five years.

Furthermore, the increasing complexity of car technology will add two hours to the average repair time.

At the same time, current projections suggest that the number of bodyshops will fall from 5,780 today to just over 5,000 by 2005.

"The results will be many in number: regional problems placing work, higher repair costs, disruption caused by staff turnover, much-reduced capital investment, falling quality and lower customer satisfaction," Oakham said.