Auto Retail Agenda: 21 September 2020

  20 September 2020

Auto Retail Agenda




Foray loss narrows

Wiltshire’s Foray Motor Group has announced a reduced loss before tax of £380k for 2019, from £1.12m in 2018. This is despite the Ford retailer’s turnover falling 4% from £175m to £168m. Foray said this was due to strategically reducing its parts stock, which reduced turnover but improved margins and its cash position.

Margins were boosted during 2019 thanks to concentrating on margin retention and used vehicle sales. A focus on reducing administrative expenses was also in place during 2019 and this is continuing through 2020.

Foray is forecasting an improved result for 2020 despite the impact of COVID-19 and says there will be further improvements in 2021. The directors added they have no plans to alter the company’s principal activities either now or in the future.


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Auto Retail Live urges focus on data

Mazepoint’s Tracy Ellam and Marshall’s Daksh Gupta urged retailers to distribute real-time data that is “credible, accurate and easy to understand” to give everyone in the business a clear insight into the position of the business and opportunities that exist.

This helps business “go back to basics” said Ms Ellam. “It shouldn’t be heavily manual… it’s about seeing the data and making sure that every cog in the machine is working, so you’re capturing every opportunity – and keeping everyone on the same page.” A single, straightforward view of retailer performance is very important, she said.

Mr Gupta said Marshall “looks at data on a day-by-day basis… in terms of enquiries, demand, conversion levels… if you do the basics brilliantly well, you will get through it.

Data gives insights into news headlines too, he added. “There are increased job losses, but these are mainly focused on 16-24 year olds, and “in the franchise sector, we generally don’t have 16-24 year old buying cars from us”.

Watch the latest Auto Retail Live on critical insights to hit your September targets.


Agnew 10% jobs cull

Northern Ireland’s Agnew Group, part of Sytner Group, is to cut up to 10% of its workforce (up to 106 employees) in a restructuring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has a turnover of almost £500m and, pre-pandemic, sold over 21k new and used vehicles from 15 sites. “Despite a busy trading period since reopening, we are still significantly behind on our year to date financial position,” said the company in a statement.


Farnell opens £2.4m Land Rover Bradford

Farnell Land Rover Bradford has opened after a £2.4m renovation. The site now has space for 50 approved used cars, an 11-bay workshop and EV charging points. John Steele has been appointed head of business and 2017 national sales manager of the year Simon Davis is brand manager.


Crown Honda Colindale to become homes

Plans have been submitted to convert Crown Honda Colindale into 470 homes. Flats up to 24 storeys high would be built on the site alongside the A5. Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dinsmore has called the plans “unacceptable”.




EU closes NOx emissions loophole

The European Parliament has voted to clamp down on loopholes helping OEMs get around compliance with legal limits for NOx emissions. Current ‘conformity factors’ allow vehicles to emit 2.1 times over the legal limit of NOx to the end of 2020, and 43% with no set end date. MEPs have now voted to phase conformity factors out by September 2022. Recent research shows they are not needed: 87% of cars tested by an environmental campaigning group emitted below the legal limit for NOx.


Cadillac demands $200k investment

880 US Cadillac dealers must invest at least $200k on electric vehicle chargers, tooling and training or risk losing the franchise beyond 2022. Its first EV arrives in late 2022 and the line-up will be fully electric by 2030. Sales VP Rory Harvey described the investment as the “entry ticket cost” for retailers to join Cadillac’s electrification plans. Larger retailers may need to spend more. The brand’s current dealer standards agreement expires in November.


Inchcape Subaru Australia changes

Subaru Australia MD Christian Dinsdale has been promoted to Inchcape APAC CFO. He replaces Adrian Lewis, who has become Inchcape global finance controller, a London-based role. Former rally driver Blair Read has also been appointed general manager of Subaru Australia.

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Closing prices on 18 September 2020 and weekly change

No change for four major retailers

Auto Trader Group 570.4p (+7.4p / +1.3%)

Cambria 50.0p (n/c)

Caffyns 270.0p (n/c)

Halfords 190.0p (+0.4p / +0.2%)

Inchcape 444.6p (-38.8p / -4.8%)

Lookers Shares suspended at 21.0p

Marshall Motor Holdings 127.5p (n/c)

Motorpoint 275.0p (n/c)

Pendragon 8.18p (-0.76p / -8.8%)

Vertu 27.1p (+0.45p / +1.6%)




Thursday, Pendragon interims

Thursday, FCA annual public meeting

Friday, GFK consumer confidence



Companies House to tighten checks

Directors will be required to verify their identities with Companies House before they are appointed to a business, as part of government plans to overhaul the system of checks. Critics say the database is too easily abused by money launderers and fraudsters. Anyone filing information on behalf of a company will also have to confirm their identity. The IoD says the measures are “a step in the right direction”.


Kwik Fit for sale?

Kwik Fit, Britain’s biggest tyre fitter and MOT specialist, is to be put up for sale by its Japanese owners, Itochu. The conglomerate bought Kwik Fit for £630m in 2011. The company has more than 600 service centres and 200 mobile tyre-fitting vehicles. A sale is said to be “highly likely” although a price is unclear.


BLOG: Retailers closing: beware the second wave?

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