Auto Retail Agenda: 8 April 2024

  07 April 2024

Auto Retail Agenda

Ford agency U-turn

Ford has reportedly backed down on plans for agency. It is instead planning a hybrid approach that utilises the strengths of its franchise network while capitalising on opportunities of data sharing.

“We’ve evolved our thinking to become what we call an ‘advanced franchise’ model,” Ford EV sales and brand management boss Anna Lena Strigel told Autocar Business.

This will see the company “use the latest systems to get more insights about customers – and we can really follow the customer journey end to end – while still keeping the franchise partner as the very important backbones of our system.

“Learnings have brought us to an evolved franchise network.”

She added that Ford had expected the shift online to be faster, “but the reality shows us that customers wished to have a physical integration for the purchase, not only to get the test drive but also to have physical guidance during the transaction process”.

This is why Ford now recognises “the impact and power of our franchise partners”.

“We are working closely with our European Ford Dealer Council on shaping our future retail strategy for Europe,” a Ford spokesperson told Auto Retail Agenda. “Our entire industry continues to transform and we remain focused on delivering the best shopping and ownership experience for our customers.

“We have no specific details to share today on our plans.”


NFDA survey expected to show improvements

The latest NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey is expected to show continued improvements in retailer-OEM relationships. It is understood the key question, ‘how do you rate your manufacturer overall?’ will increase, while there is understood to be a turnaround in the relationships of pome previously-lowly-rated OEMs.

* The full results will be published at 9am on Monday 8 April: click on Auto Retail Agenda for the headlines – and subscribe to Auto Retail Bulletin for full analysis


Cazoo CEO Paul Woodhead officially steps down

Cazoo CEO Paul Woodhead officially stepped down as CEO on 31 March. He will stay on as a strategic advisor until least mid-May to support Cazoo’s transition to its new business model.

A replacement CEO has not been announced.

“Cazoo has a highly experienced board and executive team who have been through operational restructuring processes and will navigate the business through this transitional period,” said the firm.


Pinewood pays out £358m Pendragon sale return

Pinewood Technologies investors – the software business carved out from the sale of Pendragon’s retailers to Lithia last year – are to receive a £358m capital return. The special dividend of 24.5p per share is, effectively, the net proceeds from the deal.

It represents more than half of Pinewood’s £680m valuation.


Motorpoint improves but Zeus remains neutral

Zeus Capital Research has reduced its forecast loss for Motorpoint in FY24 from £8.7m to £8.2m following improving trading conditions. In a Q4 trading update, the used car retailer said consumer demand had strengthened, vehicle supply had improved and margins were recovering.

However, despite the recent strong run in the share price, Zeus remains neutral on Motorpoint.





US retailer profits fall again

The average US franchised retailer saw net pre-tax profit fall 20.4% in 2023. This is likely to bring retailer valuations down.

However, although the decline was sharp, the average US retailer’s pre-tax profit was still more than 2.5 times the 2018 average, according to a report from Presidio Group and NCM Associates.


Has Tesla scraped affordable car plans?

Tesla shares fell 6% on Friday following a Reuters report that the firm has scrapped plans for an affordable £20k EV known as the Model 2. However, they rallied in after-hours trading after Elon Musk tweeted: “Reuters is lying (again)”.

The mercurial boss also announced the so-called robotaxi will be revealed on 8 August.




Closing prices on 5 April 2024 and weekly change

Auto Trader Group 697.4p (-2.8p / -0.4%)

Caffyns 450.0p (n/c)

Halfords 155.2p (-5.3p / -3.3%)

Inchcape 736.0p (+12.0p / +1.6%)

Motorpoint 134.0p (n/c)

Pinewood 39.6p (+1.2p / +3.0%)

Vertu 67.8p (+0.3p / +0.4%)




Tuesday, BRC sales monitor

Friday, UK GDP

27 April, NFDA Spring Ball

3 May, Radius Law Annual Conference




ISA allowance ‘difficult to justify’

Think tank Resolution Foundation says the tax-free Isa allowance is “expensive”, “poorly targeted” and is now “difficult to justify”. It argues Isas have done little to address the problem of low savings in Britain.

Last year, the think tank suggested capping Isas to £100k to reduce the amount of foregone tax.

Investment platform AJ Bell responded that slashing the Isa allowance or introducing a cap would be “retrograde step that would send a damaging anti-savings message to Brits”.


How to get cheaper foreign currency

Airport bureaux de change currency exchange firms can take more than a third of your money through fees, a Times investigation has found. Those changing currencies other than pounds can be hit by a double whammy of fees.

Which? advises customers to plan ahead and use comparison sites to get the best exchange rates – and avoid expensive delivery fees.



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