Pendragon founder Trevor Finn to start 'next chapter' in automotive sector - AM Online

Pendragon founder Trevor Finn has suggested that he could be poised to make a return to the automotive sector almost 12 months after departing the former AM100-topping car retail group.

In a post published on social networking website LinkedIn yesterday (April 30), Finn presented a timeline of highlights from his time with the group, from its stock market floatation in September 1989 and leading the sector’s consolidation push, to the creation of its 2007 used car programme (UCM).

And he said that recent research trips to establish his first move post-Pendragon would soon result in the start of the “next chapter” in his career.

Finn revealed that he had been subject to post-employment restrictions that limited his activity in the UK until now, but added: “I have been busy, understanding the evolution of new and used car distribution and my future part in it.

“This has involved no fewer than 25 trips to European and USA markets which has reaffirmed what I see as the significant opportunity for used car profit growth.

“I am excited to say that I will be launching the next chapter very soon – watch this space – but for now, I wish your family and loved ones well at this time.”

Among Finn’s career highlights, spelled out in his online post this week, he hailed Pendragon’s early push for growth in used cars, following the launch of its 2007 used car programme (UCM).

“Between 2011 and 2015 bottom line used car profitability in our Evans Halshaw division increased 90% to £42.5m,” he said.

But Finn also conceded that the organisation had “learned a lot about the negatives of fast growth in used cars”.

In 2015, Pendragon’s UK-wide Car Store used car retail business was born as part of a strategy for the growth of the existing business’s used car performance.

Finn said that, by March 2019, the Car Store team had “really accelerated the growth and profitability in a way we had not seen since the early days of UCM”, adding that the team had bonded and the numbers and data were all going in a positive direction. …

Over 3,500 vehicles sold into used car market in April, says Cap HPI – AM Online

Trade and wholesale car sales delivered 3,500 vehicles into the used car market during April’s COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown automotive retail sector, according to Cap HPI.

The vehicle valuations and market data specialist said that, while physical auction halls have been closed since the lockdown announcement, other stock sources have meant that thousands of cars were still sold – albeit only about 2% of normal volumes for the post-number plate change month.

“While we have seen a reduction in the number of valuations requested by our customers in our Valuation Anywhere product we still see thousands every weekday,” said Derren Martin, head of valuations UK at Cap HPI.

Martin said that the number of sales meant that there was still too little activity to publish any revised valuations data, however, suggesting that Cap HPI’s temporary postponement of used car value adjustments was likely to continue.

Cap HPI did concede, however, that deflation could prompt a shift depending on the length of the current crisis.

Following clarification from the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), and subsequently Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), about car retailers’ ability to continue with car sales completed in a safe manner, away from the showroom, looks likely to give rise to increased activity in the coming weeks.

Martin warned that the market could become “volatile”, stating: “More businesses are starting to deliver, and auctions and storage facilities are seeking some clarity on whether they can open the doors to transporters.

“There are a large number of vehicles ready to be moved to the next stage of their remarketing journey, and this number will increase daily.

“When values do start to move, it could well be fairly volatile in the market initially.”…

Marshall Motor Holdings achieves sixth annual Best Workplaces ranking - AM Online

Marshall Motor Holdings has achieved a 12th-placed finish in the Super Large category of the annual Best Workplaces ranking presented by Great Place to Work.

It is the sixth year running that the AM100’s seventh-placed car retail group by turnover has proved its credentials as an employer with a top-ranked position in the awards, which aim to recognise the UK’s best companies and their strength of leadership and range of innovative, creative and effective HR policies which create a leading workplace culture

This year, Marshall was ranked in the Super Large category, which rewards organisations with a workforce of over 1,000 – lining up among brands such as Hilton, Admiral and GAP.

Great Place to Work gather evidence via a wide-reaching staff survey and a subsequent audit to compile their annual rankings in Super Large, Large, Medium and Small business categories.

Marshall chief executive, Daksh Gupta, said: “First and foremost, I would like to thank all of our colleagues for making Marshall Motor Group one of the UK’s best places to work.

“People are at the heart of our business and creating a positive working environment and culture for every colleague has a huge positive impact on our business.

“In order to create a successful working environment, it is critical we listen to our colleagues and cultivate a strong company culture.

“Through various channels, our dedicated leadership team interact with our colleagues to ensure that they listen, are engaged and dedicated to providing award winning customer service each and every day.

“This award for the sixth successive year is testament to the hard-working nature of our colleagues and I am very proud of the culture our colleagues have helped to create.”

1,000 Vertu staff return from furlough to help meet service and sales demand – Car Dealer Magazine

Vertu Motors staff that had been put on furlough are returning to work.

The dealership chain, which has 133 sales and aftersales outlets, put most of its 6,000 employees on furlough as the country went into lockdown and it closed most showrooms, but now it has brought back 1,000 staff as it sells vehicles online and others are repaired for key workers.

It has also been able to shift its Gateshead contact centre to workers’ homes.

Yesterday, chief executive Robert Forrester tweeted that dealerships had taken a total of 2,825 phone calls, 1,816 services were booked and 380 sales inquiries made over the internet the day before.

BusinessLive reported Forrester as saying that some 1,000 Vertu staff had returned to work, with the figure rising daily. Most are technicians but some are sales staff.

The vast majority of its dealerships are open for service and maintenance work.

Last Friday (24th), Vertu announced that because of the Covid-19 crisis it was postponing publication of its full-year results and annual report to June 3. Covering the year to February 29, they were originally due to be published on May 6.

Meanwhile, its annual meeting, which was to have taken place in late June, will now be held on August 20.

COVID-19 car retail recovery ‘like starting a completely new business’ – AM Online

Planning for a car retail group’s recovery from the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown has been likened to “starting a completely new business with your hands tied behind your back".

As Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester told AM of his hopes that the sector’s recovery phase would bypass the need for a supermarket-style ‘click and collect’ process by moving straight to showroom re-openings, Clive Brook Volvo managing director, Clive Brook, outlined plans to redesign his business for a new trading environment.

Top AM100 retail group, Vertu, now has around 1,000 of its 6,000-strong workforce providing aftersales services and limited vehicle deliveries to keyworkers but is slowly returning more employees to work as demand begins to rise.

Forrester said: “The fact is that the government can’t simply pay for people to stay at home for months and months and months on end.

"You could just sit tight like traders in hybernation, and that might be the best thing to do, but from a moral point of view and from the point-of-view of some of our customers - who need cars and an aftersales service - we need to be open."

Forrester told AM that the group, which has paid its staff 80% of their average earnings, including commission payments, during their furlough period, would have to balance consumer demand with its desire to return staff to work.

However, the business has seen rising levels of enquiries and trade and has already set a "proxy re-opening date of May 11", according to Forrester.

Vertu sold 76 retail cars and 10 vans on Tuesday (April 28) and Forrester said that he was signing-off all sales personally.

He said: “Our deliveries are being handled by a logistics company in terms of longer distance sales. Our dealership staff may deliver a car if it’s required by an immobile NHS keyworker living nearby, however. It wouldn’t be in the public interest not to complete that kind of transaction.”

Forrester said that social distancing and vehicle sanitisation would mean that dealership standards were “very different” following the COVID-19 pandemic.

While measures being discussed the group include the removal of newspaper and customer coffee provision from showrooms, Forrester revealed that Vertu’s valeters had also remained away from the business as car vacuuming and washing processes had been removed from the aftersales process.

He said: “The focus is very much on cleansing the car and technicians are doing that as part of their roles. The cosmetic side of the aftersales process has been removed and I think our customers understand why that is.”…

Charity Ben reports coronavirus surge – Bodyshop Mag

Automotive industry charity Ben has seen a marked increase in the number of seeking support since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

It has found that over 50% of people who turn to Ben need help with their mental health and this is expected to rise in the coming months as the impact of Covid-19 continues.

Ben provides mental health assessments, life coaching and telephone based counselling, as well as other talking therapies. Ben is also fast-tracking access to its digital platform so individuals can access self-help support programmes for anxiety, depression, resilience, stress, sleep, as well as mindfulness activities. A new programme called ‘Coping with challenging times’ has recently launched on the platform to help people through Covid-19.

Ben is also supporting individuals in financial need, administering welfare grants for food, utility bills, household goods, essential travel costs, childcare and council tax. Ben’s support services team are also working with individuals to help with relevant solutions such as payment breaks for mortgage lenders, housing providers and utility bills. The team is supporting people to access relevant grants, as well as helping them maximise benefits they are entitled to…

…Rachel Clift, health and wellbeing director at Ben, said: “Our industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and automotive people are currently facing challenging and uncertain times. We want everyone in our industry to know that we’re here for them and we can provide the support they need. We’re incredibly proud to be delivering on our purpose of providing ‘support for life’ for those who work, or have worked, in our industry.

“During the last 12 months, we’ve experienced a substantial increase in those seeking support with their mental health and we continue to help those who are struggling financially. Our support for those facing money problems really is vital right now, especially for those who are unable to benefit from the Government’s furlough scheme and are left in financial limbo. Of course, the impact of the current situation is likely to continue to have an effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Our online and digital support is also crucial because we can help even more people who reach out to us due to Covid-19. These are really tough times for many in our industry, but we’re here, providing the relevant support that automotive people need right now. After all, this is what Ben’s here for.”