Auto Retail Agenda: 9 November 2020

  08 November 2020

Auto Retail Agenda



Average pay falls, fewer staff forecast

Average pay for non-management auto retail staff has fallen for the second year running, from an average of £40k to £39k. Base salaries actually increased 3%, reveals the annual Motor Salary Survey by accountancy and advisory firm BDO; it was an 11% decline in incentives that led to the fall.

Head of motor retail Steve Le Bas said it will be interesting to see if this signals a move towards higher basic pay and lower commission as more online sales means less need for salespeople to “make the sale”.

Going forward, more than 1 in 2 respondents expect to employ fewer staff as the Covid-19 pandemic speeds up online sales and automation. Strong June trading has proven to retailers they can operate effectively with a lower staff base, with less manual involvement.

The full survey is available to download from the BDO website.


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What did retailers learn in the first lockdown?

All auto retailers surveyed by ASE reported structural efficiency changes that resulted in redundancies during the first lockdown on 23 March. Furthermore, post-lockdown, few have recruited staff to replace those lost. Technology has instead “flooded into retailers” and many are now focusing strategy on “clicks not bricks”.

This is among the findings of the survey to discover what retailers learnt during the first lockdown. Many are now following a ‘less is more’ approach and reconsidering property investment, including the nature and value of the showroom.

Indeed, the March lockdown did not damage dealerships, comments ASE: it was instead a catalyst for changes to improve overall business efficiency. However, it warned, a second lockdown risks being one crisis too many for some retailers – which could result in “many smaller dealerships looking more seriously at their future”.

This Tuesday at 2pm, Sytner CEO Darren Edwards, Pendragon CEO Bill Berman and Auto Trader COO Catherine Faiers will be discussing in detail what the second lockdown means for retailers – with plenty of advice on how best to refine online sales and ‘click and collect’ to keep business running and hit your targets. Sign up here for the free webinar.

The full auto retail lockdown survey by ASE is available by request.


Vertu’s Forrester presents £3k watch to top salesperson

Vertu chief executive Robert Forrester last week presented a £3k Breitling watch to Bolton Ford salesperson Bill Martin after he won a national sales competition. Forrester described the Bolton site as “one of the best”. The current lockdown and showroom closures has seen 30% of the staff placed on furlough.


Charles Hurst’s McNab to retire

Charles Hurst group operations director Colin McNab is retiring. He joined the Lookers Group division as an apprentice in 1974. Mr McNab, a Fellow of the Institute of Motor Industry, took on his current role in 2016.

In other news, reports suggest Northern Ireland is set for the worst new car registrations year on record. Year to date sales are down 31.9% on 2019. The Ford Focus is currently the best-selling car, ahead of the Fiesta and Hyundai Tucson.


Auto Retail Bulletin turns 200

The 200th issue of Auto Retail Bulletin will be posted to subscribers early this week. The publication was launched in June 2004 with a mission to help auto retailers “be better informed”. It was a success from day one and, more than 16 years later, is still thriving.

Writing in the 200th issue, founding editor Rupert Saunders, says Auto Retail Bulletin was born out of “a belief in the importance of in-depth, intelligent and detailed analysis for senior executives in auto retailing.

“Auto Retail Bulletin has always prided itself on its unique, unbiased and fair content. We don’t do opinions. Rather, we take the view that, if an expert has something useful to say to the auto retail industry, then we should give them space to say it, without interpretation or comment.”

If you’re not already a subscriber, or you’re reading somebody else’s copy, get a free trial here.



Embattled Brockman steps down

Robert T. Brockman has stepped down as CEO and chairman of DMS giant Reynolds and Reynolds. President and COO Tommy Barras takes over as CEO. Mr Brockman was charged in October with tax evasion and wire fraud in what is being described as the “largest ever tax charge against an individual in the United States”.


EU second wave means no sales recovery

Europe’s coronavirus second wave means forecasts of a sales recovery towards the end of 2020 will be dashed. Showrooms are closed in France as well as the UK, while curfews are cutting footfall in Germany, Italy and Spain. “There are certainly reasons to be concerned with the near-term health of the car market in light of this,” said LMC Automotive analyst Jonathon Poskitt.

October new car registration figures fell in all major European markets – by more than 20% in Spain, 10% in France, 3.6% in Germany and 0.2% in Italy. IHS Markit is now forecasting a 67 percent registrations decline in France for November. Bloomberg has worsened its full-year European sales decline from 20% to 25% for 2020. LMC Automotive has forecast a 26% decline, from 14.3 million vehicles in 2019 to 10.92 million units.


Barnier warned EU proposals could damage trade

Automotive OEM trade bodies are among those warning EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that proposals for policing trade could harm companies in both Europe and the UK. Demands for tariffs on vehicles exceeding ‘rule of origin’ thresholds should be softened, or significant burdens will be placed on EU firms exporting to the UK.


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Closing prices on 6 November 2020 and weekly change

Inchcape up 13.2% on ‘stronger than expected’ Covid-19 rebound

Auto Trader Group 581.0p (+1.0p / +0.3%)

Cambria 55.0p (-1.25p / -2.2%)

Caffyns 270.0p (n/c)

Halfords 231.0p (-9.5p / -4.0%)

Inchcape 566.0p (+70.2p / +13.2%)

Lookers Shares suspended at 21.0p

Marshall Motor Holdings 132.5p (+1.0p / +0.7%)

Motorpoint 282.5p (+2.5p / +0.8%)

Pendragon 13.5p (+0.5p / +3.7%)

Vertu 27.5p (-1.9p / -6.6%)




Monday, Welsh retailers reopen

Tuesday 2pm, Auto Retail Live Q4 briefing: sign up here

Tuesday, unemployment rate, retail sales

Thursday, GDP



Cinch clinches £50m finance

BCA used car platform Cinch has secured a £50m finance facility with HSBC and NatWest. The funds will reportedly be used to buy around 5,000 vehicles, supporting Cinch’s pivot from digital retailer to automotive marketplace. This, says Cinch, will make it the UK’s largest direct-to-consumer automotive platform.


Sandicliffe cyber-attack

Nottinghamshire’s Sandicliffe has suffered a data breach after an employee opened a link in an unsolicited email. “Possibly thousands” of customers’ bank details and medical histories were stolen earlier in 2020. Those affected were recently informed of the breach. The retailer reported the cyber-attack to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which has confirmed no further action will be taken.


BLOG: We have not seen a year like 2020

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