Auto Retail Agenda: 4 February 2019

  03 February 2019


MG Motor says 15 more dealers looking to sign

MG Motor UK says it has 15 dealers preparing to join its fast-expanding network as it works towards its target of growing it by 50%. Outlets are slated to rise from the 82 last December to 120 by the end of next year.

The company said that some `household’ names are now approaching it to take on a franchise which, it says, is profitable.

Speaking exclusively to Auto Retail Agenda, a spokeswoman said: “We have two new dealers going live this week and more than 15 in the pipeline and the quality of dealers approaching us is very high, some household names within the UK motor industry. Dealers are retaining profit and even new dealers are able to trade in the black soon after opening.”

(Daniel Gregorious, Head of Sales and Marketing at MG Motor UK, will be one of our guest speakers on our Auto Retail Live Q1 briefing on Thursday at 9am. You can register HERE)


Toyota to start online sales

Toyota is planning to start full online sales later this year. The manufacturer is working on the scheme at a European level and will start off with a trial programme with the Toyota Supra which goes on sale this summer.

When the system reaches the UK in the second half of the year it will also include a feature Toyota calls ‘live interaction’, that allows buyers a more detailed and consultative approach to the online sales process.

The move is part of Toyota and Lexus’s bid to ramp up its digital operations, including new connected car apps for both brands.



BCA secures two year deal with Eden Motor Group

BCA has signed a two-year exclusive deal with Eden Motor Group to support its used car programme which will see 5,400 pre-sale prepared vehicles a year sold at BCA Blackbushe and Bridgwater with sales every Monday and Friday.

Suzanne Spencer, major account manager at BCA, said: “BCA has blended physical and digital channels to deliver a highly effective programme for Eden Group that meets their remarketing objectives and generates sustained buying power for the vehicles on offer.”

Graeme Potts, CEO of Eden Group, said: “We pride ourselves on doing things a little differently and BCA went the extra mile to put together a remarketing programme that supports our ambitious plans for the used car operation.”


New personal video app to launch

US-based personal video app, SnapCell, is due to launch in the UK this month it announced at the NADA Show in San Francisco. The app will provide the technology behind G-Forces’s new video marketing plug-in.

The app allows you to create quick but professional looking videos that can be sent to customers via email or text links. They can be used for sales enquiries responses to do a ‘video walk-around’ or for aftersales validation.

SnapCell is likely to rival CitNow and is also available as a separate app from Android or Google.

(Read our full coverage of the NADA Show in next month’s Auto Retail Bulletin)


Job finder specialist in line for award

Motor sector recruitment and job finding specialist, InAutomotive, is in the running for an industry award after being named as a finalist at the 2019 Onrec (online recruitment) awards next month.

InAutomotive hosts more than 5,000 car jobs a month and was nominated for developments in its CV database, making it easier for job seekers to upload their details, Recruiter profiles which candidates use to set up job alerts for specific companies, and career advice articles for jobseekers.

Ian Partington, CEO of Simply Jobs Boards said: “I am delighted that InAutomotive has been recognised for the Niche Job Board category. We have worked tirelessly over the last 15 years putting the jobseeker at the centre of our business model.”




PSA Retail opens first four-brand centre

PSA Retail opened the first of what it plans to be 25 four-brand centres in Europe with a site in Madrid where Opel, Peugeot, Citroen and DS are sold and serviced under one roof. It says the policy will optimise its real-estate footprint in areas with `high operating costs’.

As reported exclusively on Auto Retail Network, this week former GO Vauxhall was rebranded as Robins & Day by PSA Retail.


Car makers brace for WLTP Part II

Car makers are bracing themselves for Part II of the WLTP testing regime which wreaked havoc with production last year and left retailers facing stock shortages. Volkswagen has expressed concern while others such as PSA/Opel and BMW are confident there will be little problem with the latest EVAP (evaporation test).

The test goes into force September 1.


Tariff cut makes Japanese imports cheaper

Japanese-built cars should become cheaper thanks to a tariff drop which came into force this week.

The EU-Japan trade deal took effect on Friday (February 1) and immediately cut the current 10% tariff on Japanese cars imported into the EU to 9.2%. Although it will only affect the UK until the planned EU departure on March 29, both countries have already agreed in principle to a replacement deal post-Brexit.



Closing prices at 1 February and weekly movement

BCA 202.0p (+7.0p)

Cambria 61.0p (+1.5p)

Caffyns 375.0p (-5.0p)

Inchcape 582.5p (+2.0p)

Lookers 107.2p (+2.2p)

Marshall Motor Holdings 162.0p (+1.5p)

Motorpoint 198.0 (-1.0p)

Pendragon 26.0p (+1.1p)

Vertu 39.9p (-0.5p)



Tuesday: SMMT January registrations

February 7: Auto Retail Live Q1 Briefing. Register here

February 26. Sophus3 digital automotive forum. (London). Trends in digital sales and marketing and best-practice.



Q1/Q2: BMW 7 Series PHEV. From £76,815

September: MG ZS EV – first EV for the brand. Prices tbc.




£480,000 cost of doing business for SMEs

SMEs are spending 15% more on meeting government policies now than in 2011 with the average VAT-registered small business facing annual costs of £480,000 up from £420,000 thanks to the extra taxes, levies and employment obligations.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, said: “The minute you start firing on all cylinders as a business owner, stepping up your hiring, investment and sales activity, you’re struck with an avalanche of additional cost burdens.”



Can others learn from MG?

It’s heartening to see MG expanding and seemingly going from strength to strength. Talking to the press office this week they say the retailers are happy, are making money soon after starting with the franchise and that, along with the two dealers due to go live this week, there are 15 more `in the pipeline’, some of them household names.

I wonder if there is a lesson here other smaller brands and their retailers might do well to heed.

MG Motors UK has had a long gestation. From a slow start it has been feeding from a financial umbilical cord to its parent company and, only in 2016/17, did it begin to make money. But ones assumes with decent growth in the volume of cars, spares and finance packages it will sell this will now only grow.

Perhaps MG is different in two key respects from other relatively small brands. For one thing, it is a recognised name so vast sums don’t have to be spent getting brand awareness. For another, and I guess this is a big part of the attraction to retailers, it doesn’t insist on them investing heavily on bricks and mortar with a stand-alone showroom/service facility. My local MG dealer, Pinkstone, sells them alongside Subaru and, so long as there is no direct competition, MG seems happy with the arrangement.

Compare that with say, Infiniti. Last year it registered just 750 cars here as sales fell off a cliff with a drop of almost 80% in volume. Infiniti tell me they make money on each car, that dealers are happy with the situation and new models are due this year to reverse the situation.

But the facts are that the man in charge left at the start of the year to take up a position with Dyson and its forthcoming EVs, and Companies House is still waiting for the – now overdue – accounts of Rose Kiln Retail Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of Nissan which has five of the six Infiniti dealerships in the UK. Let’s just say there are questions which need answering.

I think DS is another. I know some PSA dealers had it foisted on them whether they liked it or not and some candidly say the brand doesn’t warrant the investment. Why has SEAT this year launched the CUPRA sub-brand when for years it already had `Cupra’ badged sports versions of its cars – what is the point and how much will it cost to make it?

It has taken MG several years of financial support from its Chinese owners to get into profit; and this from a high visibility brand which retails from a relatively low cost base.

But what of those with less visibility and higher costs – do sub-brands really make sense? And do you want to be saddled with selling them?


John Swift


Auto Retail Agenda



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