Vertu readies itself to get back on the acquisition trail

For nearly a year, Vertu hasn’t bought any dealerships, and for a group that has both been born from, and grown by, acquisition, this has been something of a change for chief executive Robert Forrester.

“We haven’t bought anything since June, which is very unusual for us, but really good,” said Mr Forrester, speaking exclusively to Auto Retail Bulletin. “It’s enabled us to focus on things and to improve the business, like productivity, cost structures and other exciting projects I can’t talk about now.

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Mobility: The distant future

The future of the car industry has never been under as much pressure from so many different directions as it is right now, with authorities, the consumer and the environment all likely to have an impact.

The lawmakers might be behind autonomous driving in the UK, but they will always be on the back foot, though, says Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s director of insurance research. “One of the problems we have got is the manufacturers are anxious to sell this tech, so manufacturers like Tesla are selling a car that is beyond the spirit of the regulation,” he says.

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Good Vibrations

Those of you who bother to read my ramblings will know I am often critical of the pace of change in automotive (not of the products, though, which continue to evolve beautifully), and the willingness of some people in the industry to hide behind process and tradition, rather than act in the best interest of the customers. Well, this month I thought I would shock everyone and focus on the positives I see in the industry that suggest a brighter future:

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Daily rental industry learning value of ready-to-retail defleeting

The daily rental industry is learning the value of defleeting stock in ready-to-retail condition in order to maximise returns, and addressing a widespread stigma among used car buyers about ex-rental vehicles because of the imagined abuse they received.

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Auto Retail Bulletin presents strategic advice and analysis for senior executives and auto retail business owners. It helps you run your business successfully and takes away the information overload.

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Consumer demand keeps forecourts busy in April

After a record month for new car sales in March, analysis shows dealers have maintained conversion rates and delivered strong used car sales during April.

Analysis of retail data in dealerships during April 2017 by automotive retail expert enquiryMAX highlighted that used car enquiries dropped by 11% between March and April, with test drives reducing 16% and sales decreased by 12% over the same period.

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Nil desperandum

Last year, 2016, might go down as a record-breaker for the retail car business. An all-time high 2.69 million new cars were registered. Used car sales could also be a record. And although the service and repair market might have declined in real terms, franchised workshops will have increased their share at the expense of the independent sector thanks to a growing four-year parc.

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Rising to the challenges of disruptive technologies

The automotive industry is facing challenges, some of which could be disruptive, and retailers will need to adapt to these changes. It will need an intensification of the use of existing dealership facilities and a more flexible space utilisation introducing more digital lounges and direct-to-customer services, all emanating from the dealership hub.

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Volvo says retailers will evolve and businesses have to change

Jon Wakefield, Volvo Car UK’s managing director, is adamant that the Swedish brand will not launch its planned online sales channel until he believes it is absolutely right, with an operational start time likely to be during the second quarter of this year.

Admitting that it was originally due to become operational before Christmas last year Mr Wakefield said: “We are finalising some of the functionality and I won’t launch it with our network until it is absolutely right.”

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Threats and opportunities from digital transformation of retail

Digitisation is transforming car retailing, delivering an enhanced customer experience. But just what will the future look like, and how do we benchmark the effectiveness of in-store digitisation and online integration?

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Used car bubble about to burst?

The US auto retail industry is bracing itself for some serious challenges in the used car market as a flood of vehicles come down the ex-lease pipeline over the next few years. So far, values have “held firm” according to Janet Barnard, president of inventory services at Cox Automotive, but some analysts don’t share her optimism.

Jonathan Banks of JD Power’s used car guide noted a 4% decline in used car values over 2016, the first material drop since the recession. He predicted a 4.8% drop in residuals in 2017 and further drops of 8% to 10% over 2018 to 2020.

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