Auto Retail Agenda: 30 September 2019

  29 September 2019


Rockar heads toward profitability

Omnichannel retail expert Rockar significantly cut its losses during 2018 as it continued to invest in its online retail systems.

Despite the sale of its Hyundai operations, the group’s turnover increased 2.6% to £47.9 million in 2018 while the company’s pre-tax loss significantly reduced to £960,000 from £2.8m during 2017.

Sales from its Jaguar Land Rover franchise at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, London, were up 50% in 2018.

Speaking exclusively to Auto Retail Agenda, Rockar founder, Simon Dixon said: “We’re investors in this industry. We’re not distracted by an aim to become profitable in the short term. We’re fortunate because we’re not a PLC, we’re a privately-run business with some forward-thinking shareholders.”

Commenting on the wider state of the auto retail industry, Mr Dixon added: “Look at the number of profit warnings we’ve had this year, there is a dramatic change coming to the way cars are sold.

“The pressure of what’s going in the wider economy at the moment means traditional businesses will have to change and the Rockar model will succeed. You only have to look at what’s happened to household brands on the high street.”




Vauxhall to push diesel in 2020 to hit CO2 targets

The tough CO2 targets coming in from January 2020 could provoke moves to steer suitable customers back to diesel power, according to Vauxhall fleet sales, remarketing and commercial vehicle director James Taylor.

As well as the big contributions to the emissions target from the new electric Corsa and plug-in hybrid Grandland X, increased diesel sales will help to bring down average CO2 figures and avoid punitive fines.

“Across retail, and to a degree Motability, we are trying to improve the diesel mix,” he said. “Whether that is looking at stocking policies for the retailers, incentives for the retailers, different incentives for the customers, there is an opportunity to some degree where a diesel would be a better solution for the customer, where they’re buying a petrol today.

“Part of that is probably education, and part of that is overcoming the negativity out in the market at the moment currently on diesel,” he continued.


PSA Retail posts 2018 loss

Manufacturer owned group PSA Retail has posted an £888k pre-tax loss in 2018 after the disposal of fixed assets in 2017 gave it a £27.4m windfall.

Formerly Peugeot Citroen Retail, the company was renamed in February 2019 after it gained Go Motor Retailing, the Vauxhall owned retail group, in 2018, whose nine retailers have since been rebranded Robins & Day. Four further Vauxhall retailers in the London area were acquired in May 2018.

Revenue grew from £898m to £982m, led by growth in vehicle registrations of 4.6%. Used volumes, however, fell 9.4%, which the company says was down to fewer sites and smaller dealer footprints.


Lookers FCA investigation details emerge

A whisleblower was behind Lookers’ decision to report itself to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph. The investigation was announced in June 2019, promoting a 25% fall in the retailer’s share price.





Tesla ‘make or break’ production figures

Tesla will this week reveal whether it is on track to hit its goal of 400,000 cars a year. CEO Elon Musk has reportedly said it has “a shot” at hitting the 100,000-car quarterly production total for the first time, although one analyst said it would be a “Herculean” task”. In May, Musk emailed workers saying the company had 10 months of cash left, weeks after raising £2.7bn.


JLR to stop production for Brexit

Jaguar Land Rover will stop production at its UK factories for the week 4th-8th November. Staff at Halewood, Castle Bromwich, Solihull and Wolverhampton will still report for work (and still be paid); the time will be used for training and maintenance. “We cannot think about it, we just have to do it,” said CEO Sir Ralf Speth.



Closing prices on 27 September 2019 and weekly movement

UBS cut its Auto Trader Group price target from 540p to 510p, reaffirmed ‘sell’ rating in a broker note

Auto Trader Group 511.8p (-8.6p)

BCA 235.6p (n/c)

Cambria 57.0p (+1.0p)

Caffyns 410p (+10.0p)

Inchcape 633.5p (-7.5p)

Lookers 56.7p (+3.8p)

Marshall Motor Holdings 144.0p (-1.5p)

Motorpoint 218.0p (+1.0p)

Pendragon 9.35p (-0.4p)

Vertu 33.0p (-0.15p)





Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, plug-in hybrid with 24-mile EV range and official CO2 of 79g/km, from around £160,000

BMW 1 Series, all-new front-wheel drive five-door premium hatch, deliveries now underway from £24,430

Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid, segment-first PHEV van with 35-mile EV range, 1,130kg payload and unchanged load volume, from £39,145 plus VAT



Monday, Bank of England money and credit announcement

Monday, UK GDP monthly estimate

Friday, SMMT September new car registrations





Business Brexit tax break call

The CBI has called for a Brexit ‘tax holiday’ in the event of a no-deal exit. Director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn suggests an extra six to 12 months to pay VAT or other bills, under ‘Time to Pay’ arrangements. Similar arrangements were used in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.


‘Little sign’ of improvement in falling retail sales

Retail sales fell for the fifth month running in September with “little sign of any change ahead” according to a CBI survey. Sales volume is poor for this time of year; the survey matters because consumers comprise around two thirds of UK national output.




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