Auto Retail Agenda: 30 March 2020

  29 March 2020






Auto Retail Network going digital

Auto Retail Network is committed to giving you the best support we can in these challenging times. In the past two weeks we have seen an unprecedented demand for our content from our industry so, starting now, we are adapting our business model to best serve you.

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Franchising Report 2020


Now Motors profits under pressure due to Hyundai growth

Stevenage-based Now Motors saw profits before tax fall from £445k to £400k for the year ending 31 December 2019. Despite Kia sales growing 10% and used sales rising 11%, its Hyundai Richmond business remains “in its infancy”. Posting a 1.2% return on sales, the directors say this will remain under pressure for the next three years as the Hyundai division grows.

Labour sales were flat due to “staffing disruption” at its Stevenage business. Acquisitions including the assets of Letchworth Suzuki, now refranchised to Hyundai, saw turnover grow from £24m to £32m. The directors are also seeking further acquisition opportunities.


IMDA launches furlough commission petition

The Independent Motor Dealers Association has launched a petition on requesting the government review the exclusion of salespeople commission from the 80% furlough leave payment scheme. It suggests a fair calculation could instead be based on averaging the last three months’ wage slips.

In less than 24 hours, over 5,000 have already signed it.


Imperial Cars launches online delivery platform

Imperial Car Supermarkets has fast-tracked its new online car buying service. Launched last week, it’s currently live only through selected marketing channels as the firm tests the new service. Customers choose a car online, sort finance, part exchange values and other details, then have the car delivered to their home (with their PX taken away). Operations director Neil Smith said particular effort has been put into the user experience and quality of online imagery.


Marshall & Vertu aftersales operations open

More than 60 Marshall aftersales operations will remain open, and the majority of Vertu’s, to support the emergency services, commercial vehicle operators and key workers during the Covid-19 national emergency. Speaking to Auto Retail Agenda, Marshall CEO Daksh Gupta said this was the right thing to do and encouraged other retailers to do the same.

Speaking on Auto Retail Live on Friday, Vertu CEO Robert Forrester said he would be opening the majority of the group’s workshops on Monday (30 March).


Coronavirus: auto industry round-up

Marshall Motors’ Daksh Gupta named a ‘hero’ in the Sunday Times for aiming to avoid redundancies, paying furloughed workers 90% of their regular salary and include workers earning more than the £2,500 cap… Vertu chief executive Robert Forrester encourages healthy furloughed workers to join the NHS volunteer army… Buyacar lifts delivery fees and includes a free £499 two-year warranty for key workers… Cazoo ceases car deliveries but will continue to take orders… Click Dealer helping retailers transition to online sales by not charging for services during lockdown… All Cleland Volvo staff to remain on the payroll and receive full salaries… Auto Trader recorded a 15-minute “dramatic drop-off” in ad views during Thursday’s #ClapforNHS and “couldn’t be happier”… Arnold Clark making 400 vehicles and 120 minibuses available to NHS employees so they can get to and from work… Coronavirus could be an “iPhone moment of transitioning to a more digital retail environment” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Franchising Report 2020


Asbury Automotive terminates $1bn deal

Asbury Automotive Group has terminated a $1bn all-cash acquisition of Park Place Dealerships agreed in December due to the coronavirus crisis. It will pay Park Place £10m in damages. The deal for the 14 retailers represented $2bn in annual revenues. Asbury, which had 2018 revenues of $6.9bn, has also upped its borrowing in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.


2020 Detroit Auto Show cancelled

The 2020 North American International Auto Show has been cancelled as the coronavirus crisis worsens in North America. It was scheduled to take place in June in a switch from its traditional January date. However, the planned location, Detroit’s TCF Center, is now being used as an emergency field hospital. Organisers say the show will now be staged in June 2021.


Franchising Report 2020



Closing prices on 27 March 2020 and weekly change

Lookers rallies 68% as market turbulence continues

Auto Trader Group 425.0p (+47.8p / +12.6%)

Cambria 34.0p (-5.0p / -12.8%)

Caffyns 280.0p (-10.0p / -3.4%)

Halfords 80.25p (+14.3p / +21.6%)

Inchcape 435.2p (-21.0p / -4.6%)

Lookers 18.5p (+7.5p / +68.1%)

Marshall Motor Holdings 95.0p (-2.5p / -2.5%)

Motorpoint 192.5p (-12.5p / -6.0%)

Pendragon 6.0p (+0.8p / +15.3%)

Vertu 23.4p (+5.1p / +27.8%)




Mazda CX-5, 2020 facelift brings improved infotainment, cylinder deactivation on 2.0-litre petrol engine, prices from £27,030

Morgan Plus 4 70th Anniversary Edition, 20 to be built, each individually numbered and costing £60,995, first cars built just before factory closed for the first time since WWII due to coronavirus



Monday, consumer credit announcement

Tuesday, UK GDP

Tuesday, AA final results


Franchising Report 2020

Insolvency and AGM rules changed

Insolvency rules will be changed to give firms more flexibility during the coronavirus crisis, business secretary Alok Sharma has announced. Businesses undergoing restructuring will get continued access to supplies and raw materials, and wrongful trading provisions will be temporarily suspended for company directors. Changes will be retrospective from 1 March.

Rules around AGMs will be changed in line with public health guidance – including postponing AGMs, holding them online, or over the telephone with proxy voting. Workers can also carry over four weeks of annual leave to be taken over the next two years.


FCA, banks to help consumers

The FCA, Bank of England and high street banks will remotely meet today (Monday) to discuss plans to help consumers through the coronavirus crisis. It will focus on those now unable to pay mortgages, credit cards and personal loans. FCA interim chief executive Chris Wollard said payment holidays on credit cards may not be the answer because it would compound high interest rates. He indicated other solutions were required.
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Franchising Report 2020

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