Auto Retail Agenda: 19 June 2023

  17 June 2023

Auto Retail Agenda

Odey scrambles to sell Pendragon stake

Odey Asset Management is understood to have sold the bulk of its stake in Pendragon last week. It offloaded over 5% of Pendragon on Thursday morning in a trade executed by investment bank Peel Hunt.

City sources say the buyers were a combination of new and existing shareholders in Pendragon.

The sell-off leaves Odey holding a stake of around 4% in Pendragon. It was part of an “intensifying firesale of assets by the firm”.

Pendragon, Odey and Peel Hunt all declined to comment.

Odey Asset Management last week ousted its founder from the business as part of attempts to stabilise the £3bn firm.

The Sunday Times reports both Crispin Odey and his fund could face sex assault claims. The Financial Times earlier reported 13 women claimed to have been sexually assaulted or harassed by him over a 25-year period.

Crispin Odey has denied the accusations.


Carwow teams up with Volvo on agency

The MD of Volvo UK, which moved to agency last week, has revealed the company is collaborating with Carwow. Kristian Elvefors said that the new agency model “requires great collaboration with both retailers and the main aggregators.

“Together with Carwow, we developed a fully integrated solution where customers can book test drivers or buy a car seamlessly.”

Carwow commercial director Sepi Arani said the aggregator was “thrilled to continue to build on this great and collaborative partnership that really puts the customer first”.


West End Kia relocates to bus during redevelopment

West End Garage Kia in Woking has bought a double decker London bus to use as a workspace for its sales and service teams while the showroom undergoes redevelopment. The decision to use a bus is “instead of using standard boring and grey Portakabins,” said operations director Andy Simpson, who added it has “gone down a storm” with customers.

The bus has been fitted out with tables, coffee machine and a cold drinks bar. It has air conditioning, and West End has also hired executive-style temporary toilets, plus picnic benches with parasols for customers to use.


Cazoo company secretary steps down

Cazoo general counsel Ned Staple has stepped down as company secretary. Prior to joining Cazoo, he spent five years at Zoopla parent company ZPG, including the listing of Zoopla and ZPG’s takeover in 2018.


Busy week for Vertu

Vertu has won planning permission to build a new retailer in Ayr, Ayrshire. The newbuild site may have as many as 360 parking spaces. It is understood the site will trade under the Macklin Motors brand and retail Toyotas.

Elsewhere, Vertu Bristol Street Motors Stroud is to close at the end of the month. The site lost its Ford new car franchise some time ago. All staff will be relocated to Vertu’s Ford retailers in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Finally, Vertu has lodged plans for a new vehicle preparation centre in Boldon, South Tyneside, which could employ up to 35 people.

“The site will support Vertu operations at their Sunderland, Durham and Teesside showrooms, where space does not exist for these operations,” said the firm in its application.  It added vehicles would mainly be brought to the site by transporter, to minimise vehicle movements.



Ford: retailer network ‘still oversized’

Martin Sander, European head of Ford passenger cars, says the brand’s retailer network remains oversized and must shrink in coming years. “We have discussed this with the dealers,” he said. “They know what is coming.”

The move to agency will gather pace too. The Netherlands switched earlier this year and it will be implemented across Europe “over the next years,” said Sander. “I’m deeply convinced agency is the future”.


TrueCar replaces CEO, cuts 24% of workforce

TrueCar CEO Mike Darrow has left the business. He will be replaced by COO Jantoon Reigersman. The struggling vehicle listings business will also cut 102 positions, or 24% of its workforce. Net losses grew to $19.6m (£15.2m) in Q1, up from a $12.4m (£9.6m) loss a year earlier, and an $18.1m (£14.1m) Q4 loss.




Closing prices on 16 June 2023 and weekly change

Motorpoint falls 17.8% after announcing loss and pausing new site openings in annual results; Zeus labels firm ‘overvalued’

Auto Trader Group 642.8p (+25.0p / +3.9%)

Caffyns 475.0p (n/c)

Halfords 196.5p (-4.3p / -2.1%)

Inchcape 783.5p (-13.5p / -1.7%)

Lookers 85.0p (+3.2p / +3.8%)

Motorpoint 104.5p (-20.5p / -17.8%)

Pendragon 16.00p (-0.62p / -3.8%)

Vertu 62.8p (+1.2p / +1.9%)




Wednesday, CPI and RPI

Thursday, Bank of England interest rate decision

Friday, retail sales

Friday, GFK consumer confidence




No growth in average earnings since 2005

Average weekly earnings of £497 in 2023 are the same as they were in 2005, figures economists describe as “completely unprecedented”. With inflation still at almost 10%, it will take another 18 months before real-terms wages begin to rise again.

There is no comparable period since the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s when wages have been so stagnant.


Early signs food inflation is easing

The boss of Tesco has reported “encouraging early signs” that grocery inflation is beginning to ease. There has been a slowdown in price growth across the market and food prices are “past the peak of inflation”.

CEO Ken Murphy also took a swipe at Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey after the former FCA chief blamed supermarkets for stubbornly high prices.



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