Auto Retail Agenda: 22 April 2019

  22 April 2019




Accountants warn retailers ‘not ready’ for digital tax

A leading accountancy firm is warning that many auto retailers lack the IT software to comply with HMRC’s Make Tax Digital programme which started this month. They say some DMS providers still cannot supply viable systems.

The accountants say the true picture won’t become clear until the first returns for the quarter ending June, which must be filed by August 7, but warn that many dealerships are unprepared.

Glyn Edwards, VAT director at MHA Macintyre Hudson, said: “Some DMS providers are not ready, I’ve even heard one say it is a work in progress! The first quarter returns to the end of June will be the acid test and these must be submitted by August 7 but we fear there may be many who will struggle because the software simply isn’t ready.”


Skoda mandates EV training for 2020

All Skoda retailers must complete in-house training for both technicians and sales staff by next January as it prepares to launch a range of electric cars.

The company would not say how much it will cost to upgrade the workshops or put staff through the mandatory training courses but said everything must be finished by the start of 2020.

A Skoda spokesperson said: “Later this year Skoda will be launching the Superb PHEV and a fully battery-powered version of Citigo.”



Five more MG retailers imminent

Five more MG retailers are on the verge of being signed which will take the network up to almost 100. The brand is on course to hit its target of 120 sites.

This week it announced its twelfth new appointment since January, and 92nd retailer to date, with Autobase MG in the West Midlands. Speaking exclusively to Auto Retail Agenda an MG Motor UK spokesman said: “We have 12 new dealer partners since January 1 with a further five strategic new sites imminent.”

The company also said it has audited every retailer to make sure they are preparing for the manufacturer’s first EV later this year. Each site must have at least two rechargers and technicians and sales staff must have completed nationally recognised IMI training courses.


Toomeys expects stronger 2019 after cutting losses

Essex multi-franchise retailer Toomey Motor Group saw business improve but still recorded a loss of almost a third of a million pounds in 2018.

A reduction in low margin fleet business and a rationalisation of franchises following PSA’s takeover of Vauxhall helped cut losses from £475,000 in 2017 to £329,000. Turnover dropped 15% from £47m to £40m. Headcount also fell by 10% to 121.


Franchised sector `not main concern’ say FCA

The NFDA says franchised retailers are largely in the clear from the Financial Conduct Authority following its recent investigation into motor finance.

The watchdog looked at auto retail finance, focusing on commission structures after claims there was often a conflict of interest. But, after sitting down with the FCA to discuss its findings, the NFDA says the franchised sector was mainly given a clean bill of health.

Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, said: “Last Friday, we held a constructive meeting with the Financial Conduct Authority. They confirmed that franchised dealers do not represent their main cause of concern and we will continue to work with them to ensure a sensible approach to the issues outlined in their recent report on motor finance.”




Volvo says subscription model works

Volvo is fighting back after California retailers filed a petition trying to block the car subscription scheme it set up last year for the XC40 SUV.

Retailers call the scheme illegal and want the state to block it. But speaking at this week’s New York Auto Show, Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Volvo Car’s US operation, said the trade must embrace new routes to market or leave a gap for others to fill.

Using a quote attributed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos `Your margin is my opportunity’, Gustaffson said: “We need to be open to new ideas otherwise, I think the guy that is chasing our margins will find out far faster than we do.’’



Closing prices at 18 April and weekly movement

Inchcape continues strong gains

BCA 212.0p (+2.8p)

Cambria 58.5p (n/c)

Caffyns 395.0p (n/c)

Inchcape 636.0p (+34p)

Lookers 93.0p (-4.4p)

Marshall Motor Holdings 168.5p (n/c)

Motorpoint 187.5p (n/c)

Pendragon 22.7p (-3.3p)

Vertu 35.0p (-0.1p)



Skoda Scala. Compact hatchback. Deliveries this summer. From £16,595.

Mercedes-Benz GLS. MB’s biggest SUV. Here Q3, prices tbc.



14 May: MHA Motor FD Forum. Key auto retail trade topics and guest speakers. Newport Pagnell.

16 October: AI in Retail conference, new digital skills in ecommerce. London. Click here



Q1 marketing spend up

Businesses marketing budgets rose sharply in Q1 with online and search/SEO seeing a big upswing from cuts of around 4% in Q4 2018 to growth of 14% this time. In contrast sales promotions, market research and direct marketing budgets all took a hit while PR spend was flat.


John Swift


Auto Retail Agenda


















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