Arnold Clark aims to introduce a new Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Innovation Centre in England, following the launch of its first in Scotland.
Speaking at the VIP Launch Night for its new £5 million Innovation Centre in Glasgow, attended by around 60 guests, chief executive and group managing director Eddie Hawthorne stated plans were being formulated to extend the concept south of the border, writes Jim McGill.
The current Innovation Centre, which occupies a regenerated former Phoenix Car Company dealership on Dumbarton Road in the West End of Glasgow, is not a car sales location. Instead it’s core priority is to educate the public on AFVs. Developed in association with Transport Scotland, OLEV, Scottish Power, Energy Saving Trust, Go Ultra Low, Strathclyde University and The NVT Group, Hawthorne is keen to use the results achieved in Scotland to spread the education principle across the UK.
“I’m often asked ‘what do I believe is required to persuade new car buyers to switch to EVs?’,” the Arnold Clark boss explained. “The answer is simple: education. Currently only around 1% of all new car sales pure electric vehicles.
“That 1% will definitely grow; and in fact it could, should, already be higher but for the supply problems the industry is experiencing at the moment; and that problem’s not restricted to EVs.
“We’ve invested well over £5 million in the Innovation Centre in Glasgow. It’s not a site we are selling anything from. It’s specifically an innovation, information and educational centre.”
Wessex Garages group, part of VT Holdings, has opened its fourth Nissan dealership, in Newport, South Wales. Its Nissan territory now stretches from Cardiff across the Severn estuary to Bristol, and up as far as Gloucester. The group also represents Mazda, Kia, Hyundai, Renault and Dacia.
The opening it marks the company’s return to the area after an absence of almost a decade.
Managing Director Chris Wiseman said: ‘‘The opening of our Newport Nissan dealership gives us a lovely territory in South Wales and the west of England – and we’re very excited to represent Nissan at our Newport Retail Park site. Adding Newport back into our market area is a massive plus for us and links up our territory perfectly.”
The Newport business will operate out of a temporary facility until a permanent showroom is built. Construction starts in October. The move back to Newport represents an investment of up to £500,000 by Wessex Garages. Up to 10 jobs will be created with the appointment of a brand manager, Motability specialist, sales executives and technicians.
Growing motor retail group Waylands Automotive opened the doors of its fifth Volvo dealership to customers in Bristol on Monday.
The dealer group, headed by John O'Hanlon, was granted the franchise for Bristol earlier this year and with the help of construction firm MCS Group has transformed a brownfield site formerly used by aviation giant Rolls-Royce. The project was completed on schedule.
Developed in the Volvo Retail Experience (VRE) showroom style, the 17,000 sq ft flagship Volvo dealership for Bristol has showroom space for eight cars plus a forecourt able to stock more than 70 Volvo Selekt approved used cars, a relaxing lounge for customers and a service and MOT workshop.
Headed by general manager Jarred Taylor, Waylands Volvo Bristol fronts onto the A38 arterial road into Bristol, and one near motor trade neighbour is Sytner's CarShop used car supermarket.
Donnelly Group has pumped £3m into a new Honda dealership in Belfast.
In addition to the site on Boucher Road, Donnelly Group has nine locations across Northern Ireland in Ballymena, Bangor, Dungannon, Dungannon M1, Eglinton Derry, Enniskillen, Mallusk and Maydown Derry. The group is ranked 52 in the Motor Trader Top 200 with annual revenues of £311.9m
Dave Sheeran, managing director of Donnelly Group, said: ““The prime location for our new site, on the Boucher Road, is easily accessible and less than a mile from our former premises, giving our customers even more choice and convenience when purchasing a vehicle.”
Paul Compton, site director, said: “It has been great to welcome customers to our new Honda site which boasts twice the capacity of our former site also on Boucher Road. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and the feedback we have received so far has been excellent.
“As Northern Ireland’s largest family-owned vehicle retailer, we pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and attention to detail, and our modernised Boucher Road showroom will help in continuing that tradition.”
Pre-tax profits rose at Furrows Holdings by 36% in 2020 to £1.5 million, although revenues slumped from £110.3m to £84.2m.
The Shrewsbury-based car dealer group, which has dealerships representing Ford, Mazda, Kia and Skoda at Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Telford, noted that after the first lockdown its performance from June to October was stronger than forecast.
"Despite the reduction in activities in November as a result of the second lockdown in England, the group was able to achieve and exceed targets," states its latest accounts filing at Companies House.
"Diversification within the group and the motor dealership trade itself, combined with the significant contribution of a great number of people throughout the business, and strong partnerships, enabled what by many measures was a strong performance for the year."
Furrows' board of directors continued: "Performance is always a product of the commitment and dedication of people, and this year was no different, but it did once again highlight the considerable strength within the business and the communities we serve."