Agenda 1 January 2018

  01 January 2018



Half of UK’s business leaders ‘cautiously optimistic’ for 2018

Business leaders have said they have confidence in their own firms for the year ahead, even though there are continued concerns about the wider economy, according to a survey from the Institute of Directors.

The survey of 762 company directors showed that in December, almost half of businesses were ‘quite’ or ‘very ’optimistic about their prospects, but a similar number said they felt pessimistic when asked about the wider economy and cited domestic economic conditions as the main negative factor affecting their business. Some four in 10 said uncertainty surrounding the UK’s trading status with the EU and skills shortages were having a detrimental effect. In terms of their wishlists for 2018, respondents called for investment in physical and digital infrastructure and for a reduction in the regulatory burden. More than a third of IoD members said they wanted to see funding to improve transport infrastructure, followed by better coverage of faster broadband.

Stephen Martin, the IoD’s director general, said: “The concern in these figures is the prevailing low expectations for the performance of the economy as a whole. Domestic economic conditions and uncertainty around our trading relationship with the EU continue to top our members’ concerns. The Government must now build on the resilience of business leaders. It can help to bolster confidence by hitting the ground running in January, pushing ahead with the priorities spelled out in its Industrial Strategy in areas like transport and skills.

“It is also absolutely vital that quick progress is made in agreeing transitional arrangements with the EU for what comes after March 2019. Businesses need to plan ahead, so the Government must deliver greater certainty on the Brexit transition early in the new year.”


Listers site hit by arson attack

A huge fire at the Listers Land Rover dealership in Shirley, Solihull has been confirmed as an arson attack via the company’s twitter feed. Firefighters were called to attend the blaze, which started at around 10.20pm on 29 December and people were warned to stay clear of the area, which houses mainly industrial buildings, after a number of explosions. While a number of vehicles were damaged, a spokesperson for Listers said no one was hurt and no customers’ vehicles were damaged. They added the dealership was now open for business as usual.


Used values fall by 1.1% in December. 

Used car values have dropped a modest 1.1% in December, according to figures from Cap HPI. The analyst showed values for vehicles at three years 60,000 miles moved back by 1.1% last month, which is compared to a fall of 1.6% in December 2016. Average values at one year 10,000 miles fell slightly more and moved back by 1.2%, because of greater volumes entering both the retail and wholesale market.

The city car sector saw the highest demand with values falling by 0.1% at three years 60,000 miles. Among the top performers were the Fiat 500, Toyota Aygo and Smart Fortwo. Meanwhile, the electric vehicle sector is seeing growing demand and saw average prices rise at three years 60,000 miles by 0.9%.

James Dower, senior editor of Black Book at Cap HPI, said: “Historically, used car activity starts to improve after the Christmas period and values begin to strengthen. Buyers will be looking to replenish sold stock and those who have run a more lean stock into the back end of the year will also be looking to capitalise on the upturn in retail enquiry rates.”

Plans for new Audi Chelmsford showroom

A Wickes store in Chelmsford, Essex, could be changed into an Audi dealership. Plans have been submitted to Chelmsford City Council to convert the building merchants’ premises in Cuton Hall Road to incorporate a showroom, service areas and MOT facility.

The proposed building would incorporate a showroom and technical service bay area and MOT facility. The area is a popular location for dealerships, with Jeep, Chrysler, Land Rover, Vauxhall, Ford, Mercedes and Toyota already represented. It is not yet known if Wickes, which is currently still trading, will relocate. Chelmsford Audi has an existing dealership on the Dukes Park Industrial Estate and is part of US retail giant Group 1 Automotive.



Tesla opens in NYC’s Meatpacking District

Electric car specialist Tesla has opened a new store in New York City’s fashionable Meatpacking District, located in Downtown Manhattan and in an area known for its high-end retail, restaurants and bars. It replaces the former smaller dealership in Chelsea and the new showroom encompasses 10,900 sq ft with numerous vehicles stored – customers can make an appointment online to come in for test drives. It also offers various interactive displays, a coffee shop and bar geared towards owners’ events. Tesla is also using the showroom to promote its energy products.



End of week share prices

(As at market close, Friday; prices for previous week in brackets)

BCA Marketplace 202.20p (-3.80p)

Caffyns 415.00p (-5.00)

Cambria Auto 61.00p (no change)

Inchcape 782.50p (-0.50p)

Lookers 102.75p (+0.25)

Marshall Motor 167.50p (no change)

Motorpoint Group 219.00p (-6.00)

Pendragon 28.50p (no change)

Vertu Motors 50.50p (-0.50)




Thursday – New car registrations, Nationwide House Price Index, Cambria Automobiles AGM

Friday – BRC Shop Price Index



Electric car buyers – and dealers – need clearer answers

The new year firework displays were spectacular but are already fading from memory. So, for many, it’s back to work – if you’re not already there and one topic which looks poised to be a big talking point in the coming year is the electric car. Many retailers are likely to be thinking hard about this sector, currently only a tiny part of UK sales, but which is apparently set to grow massively – in Norway, electric vehicles now account for around 30% of sales. Consumers are being courted by manufacturers promising the future is electric.

But, while she could be accused of stating the obvious, Tesla driver Amanda Blanc, who also runs the UK division of insurer Axa, recently said that the shortage of charging points, in addition to pressure on the National Grid, is a major stumbling block to electric car sales. She pointed out that a recent family drive meant stopping twice to use a supercharger – clearly if the number of electric vehicles on the road surges without the infrastructure being in place, this is going to be a big disincentive to buyers.

There are some 125,000 plug-in electric cars in the UK and 14,000 chargers – 2,620 are rapid chargers that can give a car an 80% charge in 30 minutes. This is acceptable if the charger is free and it is possible to have a coffee, but not if others are lining up to use it. Consumers are being fed with messages that diesel is socially unacceptable and that petrol cars too are poised to become obsolete by 2040 and if some politicians have their way, then well before this date. So, is now the time to buy electric?

Who can blame anyone for feeling confused when there are stories of charging points needing to be installed on lampposts and warnings that the potential strain on the National Grid could mean cars could only be charged at certain times of the day. Tesla chief Elon Musk has suggested having battery swapping stations where flat ones are replaced with those that are fully charged. In more practical terms, Shell has opened charging points for electric cars at 10 filling stations, but these are mostly in London and the south east. Such pick and mix solutions are not good enough. There appears to be no obvious signs of how much needs to be spent, where the money will come from, who is going to provide the infrastructure, who will oversee the strategy and how effective it will be.

A major shift to electric must surely have more joined up thinking and piecemeal moves, while welcome, need to benefit the whole population. Until the answers are black and white, then retailers may well choose to focus on the present rather than the electric hyperbole.

Rachel Gordon


Auto Retail Network


Start your free 14 day trial

Get free access to our Bulletin, Agenda & Profit for 14 days.

After 14 days we will auto bill your credit or debit card unless the order is cancelled.

As an auto retail executive you need insightful and unique industry intelligence to boost your business potential. Here’s a taste of what Auto Retail Network has to offer:

  • Get informed and boost your business potential
  • More than 1,200 fellow executives have joined us
    since launch
  • Independent, carefully crafted, unique content relevant to you and your business
  • Develop a greater awareness of market trends and opportunities
  • Access to a wide range of materials whenever, wherever and however you want it
  • Significant discounts on ARN events, reports and
    other publications