Auto Retail Agenda: 7 August 2023

  06 August 2023

Auto Retail Agenda

Cazoo head of operations James Dower to leave

Cazoo head of operations James Dower is to leave the business on 31 August. He said he had been proud to lead a “hugely effective operational team that have delivered incredible efficiencies and outstanding performances across the wholesale business.

“To the site, field inspection, imaging and logistics teams I would like to say a huge thank you for what you have delivered, you have been amongst some of the best people I have worked with.”

Dower joined Cazoo in August 2020, initially as account director, before becoming head of operations in December 2021. His career also includes two years as a dealer principal with Pendragon and two years as senior editor of CAP Black Book.

Dower said he will spend some time with his family before deciding what to do next and “if you value industry experience and expertise, please do get in touch”.


Mercedes-Benz plans ‘showroom event’

Mercedes-Benz has announced a ‘Weekend Showroom Event’ from 11-14 August to launch the 73-plate registration month in September. Every customer will receive two services free when they order a new Mercedes-Benz. The offer is in addition to existing supported APR campaigns across the range.

The company will run national media across TV, radio, social media, high-impact digital display, paid search and its website this week, to drive interest ahead of the weekend.

Last week, Europcar also announced it was adding Mercedes-Benz EV models to its daily rental fleet, including the EQA, EQC and EQE.


Harwoods 2022 profit dips to £7.8m

Harwoods Ltd saw profit before tax fall from £9m to £7.8m in the year ended December 2022. Turnover grew from £580m to £636m, meaning return on sales fell from 1.9% to 1.2%. The company said profitability was good “despite supply chain issues” and, while operating costs increased, they also decreased as a proportion of turnover, from 11.2% to 11.1%.


Barretts ‘not happy’ about Stellantis brand closure

Barretts of Canterbury’s Citroen and DS retailers are to close on 15 September, which will result in “a small number of redundancies” from the site’s 21 staff. Barretts MD Paul Barrett said the retailer has not renewed its contract and “we have therefore taken the decision to close the business. It’s not a decision we are happy about”.

Barretts celebrated its 120th anniversary in Canterbury in 2022. The retailer has no plans for the Citroen and DS site at the moment “but we are looking for opportunities”.




Inchcape in New Zealand acquisition  

Inchcape has acquired Great Lake Motor Distributors Group in New Zealand. It takes over five retail operations, selling both LDV and SsangYong. Inchcape APAC CEO Ruslan Kinebas said it was “another example of Inchcape’s Accelerate strategy in action”. Inchcape has also, since 1992, been the sole importer and distributor of Subaru in New Zealand.


FordDirect chooses Velocity Automotive

Velocity Automotive, a company that aids reconditioning by providing window stickers and VIN-specific digital vehicle documentation, has been endorsed by FordDirect as a preferred partner in the US. FordDirect is a joint venture between Ford and its franchised retailers that provides digital marketing and advertising solutions.




Closing prices on 4 August 2023 and weekly change

Auto Trader Group 627.6p (-15.2p / -2.3%)

Caffyns 580.0p (+80p / +14.8%)

Halfords 205.4p (-17.0p / -7.9%)

Inchcape 787.5p (-31.5p / -3.9%)

Lookers 128.4p (+5.6p / +4.4%)

Motorpoint 101.0p (-5.5p / +5.3%)

Pendragon 18.9p (+1.72p / +9.5%)

Vertu 72.0p (+1.0p / +1.3%)




Monday, Halifax house price index

Friday, UK GDP




Why you might be debanked

More than 1,000 bank accounts are closed daily, according to a freedom of information request to the FCA by the Mail on Sunday. New rules have been introduced, meaning banks now have to explain why they want to close an account, and give 90 days’ notice.

Reasons for debanking include fraud, being abusive to staff, unusual transactions, wrong details, not making the bank enough money, breaking T&Cs, transactions with ‘risky’ countries, poor financial history – or the bank making a mistake.


Bank of England forecasts 5% inflation ‘by Christmas’

The Bank of England is forecasting inflation will fall from today’s 7.9% to 5% by the end of the year. Its target rate is 2%. Last week, the Bank raised interest rates to 5.25%, the highest level for 15 years.

For the last two years, the BBC observes, the Bank has consistently underestimated the rate of short-term inflation (six-to-nine months ahead). Last week, Auto Retail Agenda reported former Fed chair Ben Bernanke is to lead a review into the Bank’s forecasting tools.



Start your free 14 day trial

Get free access to our Bulletin, Agenda & Profit for 14 days.

After 14 days we will auto bill your credit or debit card unless the order is cancelled.

    As an auto retail executive you need insightful and unique industry intelligence to boost your business potential. Here’s a taste of what Auto Retail Network has to offer:

    • Get informed and boost your business potential
    • More than 1,200 fellow executives have joined us
      since launch
    • Independent, carefully crafted, unique content relevant to you and your business
    • Develop a greater awareness of market trends and opportunities
    • Access to a wide range of materials whenever, wherever and however you want it
    • Significant discounts on ARN events, reports and
      other publications