4 in 5 car buyers prefer dealership purchase, Vertu survey finds – AM Online

Fewer than one in five consumers are happy to buy a car remotely after only watching a personalised video or a live virtual walkaround, new consumer research has found.

AM100 dealer group Vertu Motors commissioned a survey of almost 4,000 customers and discovered more than four in five (83%) want to visit a dealership when they buy a car.

Half said they would only use virtual viewings during the early stages of their buying journey. Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors' chief executive, said it was interesting to learn that few want car dealerships to go the way of other retail outlets where the focus is on online sales post-pandemic.

He added: “Online options may have helped car buyers during COVID, but as life gets back to normal customers do not want this to become the norm.

"The desire to build a relationship with your salesperson, negotiate on price and get a feel for the vehicle are as important as ever and, in the minds of today’s customers, online methods simply are no replacement for doing that in person."

Personalised videos were preferred by only 7%, a live virtual tour by 6% and only 2% said they prefer doing it all online only. Forrester said Vertu's core proposition will continue to be in-person car viewings.

Reasons that people surveyed prefer in-showroom car purchase included that it was easier to ask questions (59%), they could look at their own pace (48%) and they could understand the options better (41%).

Taunton Volvo becomes latest dealer to gain EVA accreditation – Motor Trader

Taunton Volvo has become the latest dealership to be awarded an Electric Vehicle Accreditation (EVA) developed by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) to recognise retailers’ excellence in the electric vehicle sector. EVA is endorsed by the Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and Energy Saving Trust. Earlier this year Volvo told Motor Trader it planned to have all dealers in its network accredited by the end of the year Following the success of EVA’s first year, which saw over one-hundred dealers obtain accredited status, the Government has renewed its co-sponsorship of the scheme.

Alan Woodland, general manager, said: “We are delighted to receive our EVA accreditation. Customers can be reassured that at Taunton Volvo they will receive the best advice and support when buying an electric vehicle.”

Sue Robinson, NFDA chief executive, said: “Congratulations to Taunton Volvo on receiving their EV accreditation which recognises their expertise in the sector.”

The scheme encourages dealerships to further develop their ability in selling and servicing electric vehicles. It recognises dealers’ expertise in the electric vehicle sector and promotes industry standards for the benefit of the consumer.

Energy Saving Trust independently audits individual dealerships to verify that they meet a set of standards covering EV sales and aftersales. These include the customer qualification process, staff knowledge and training, EV demonstration and handover processes as well as availability of EV service bays and charge points on site. To gain the accreditation, our staff have undertaken intensive training, where all colleagues must also show a solid understanding of all electric and hybrid model variants. Aftersales and technical staff have also received comprehensive training to meet this standard. Areas where our staff have demonstrated their knowledge include: charging an EV, different driving modes and their impacts, electric driving range and fuel consumption for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), guidance on servicing and maintenance of an EV.

Perrys turns in ‘resilient performance’ in 2020 with profits of £3.2m – Motor Trader

Perrys Motor Sales turned in a ‘resilient’ performance in 2020 with pre-tax profits doubling to £3.2m on reduced turnover, down 19.2% to £491m. It said the results which were ahead of expectations, despite the impact of COVID-19 with successive lockdowns and temporary showroom closures.

During the year it took on three MG franchises in Preston, Huddersfield and Aylesbury and acquired a Kia franchise in Huddersfield. It also established used car operations, branded as Perrys Used Car Outlets, in Doncaster and Milton Keynes and has plan to open further outlets.

The company made 200 staff redundancies which cut annual salary costs by approximately £3.2m.

Darren Ardron, MD for Perrys Motor Sales, said: “The board are pleased to announce the group has delivered a resilient set of results in what can only be described as unprecedented times.

“Our thanks go to all our staff for their loyalty and commitment during this period as well as our manufacturer partners for their support and of course all the governmental support.

“The group had to make some difficult decisions in this period however this will now put Perrys in a good position for the years ahead.”

Donnelly Group returned to profit in COVID-hit 2020 – AM Online

Donnelly Group returned to profit in 2020 after delivering £7.2 million of annualised structural cost savings during the COVID-hit year in car retail. The Northern Ireland-based car retail group reported that it had achieved a pre-tax operating profit of £1.46 million in its latest accounts filed at Companies House for the year ending 31 December 2020. The result represents a near-155% improvement on 2019’s £2.66m pre-tax loss.

Donnelly’s turnover declined by 19.1% to £252,364,123 (2019: £311,861,484) during the reported period, however, due to the impact of lockdown-enforced car dealership closures. Dave Sheeran, the managing director at Donnelly Group, said: “2020 was an extremely challenging year for the entire motor retail industry. The pandemic coincided with a wider strategic review of the business, the out-workings of which are beginning to materialise in these results. The business is in a positive position following £7.2m of annualised structural cost savings and I expect stronger results as the Group’s new strategy is fully implemented”.

Donnelly Group currently represents 16 OEM partners, including Honda, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Renault, Vauxhall and Volkswagen from its nine locations across Northern Ireland.

Katie Snow appointed development director at Snows – Motor Trader

Katie Snow has been appointed development director at Snows. She joined her family’s business in 2015 after nine years with the John Lewis A-Level management programme, during which time she held key roles in stores across Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex. Snows is rated 43 in the Motor Trader Top 200 Dealer Groups with annual turnover of £414.4m. It has dealerships representing a wide spectrum of brands across the South and the South West of England. It also has 12 specialist used car outlets operating under the ‘Too Good To Auction’ banner.

Katie Snow said: “I feel both honoured and excited to be taking on the role of development director. During my first few years with Snows I worked across all departments to develop a comprehensive understanding of the business.

“However, my underlying passion has always been employee development and assisting individuals to develop their career in line with their own aspirations.

“A key part of my new role will be the continued roll-out of our new Talent Management programme, which in time we hope will create clearer pathways for our colleagues to progress their careers.

“We are all very proud of the momentum the roll out has gained so far and the buy-in from the management teams.

“In the near future, I also hope to launch Snows’ first colleague to management training programme.”