Shedding a tear for Nidd Vale

  10 December 2012

Rather sad at the news that Nidd Vale Motors has gone into administration; and not just because it’s always a pity when one of our leading auto retail groups buckles, especially for the staff and customers.

From a purely selfish point of view Nidd Vale were what we journalists call ‘good copy’ and, ever since I started writing about the industry, they’ve been in the news. Quite simply, Nidd Vale was prepared to take risks; try new ideas.

The company started to expand in the early 1990s under the ownership of local entrepreneur and former rally driver, Richard Jackson. It broke all the unspoken rules by pre-registering Vauxhall Omegas, then advertising them nationally through The Sunday Times and offering to deliver them anywhere in the country.

Other Vauxhall retailers, still schooled in selling only in their own territory, couldn’t compete but there was nothing they could do about it. It was a model that we would now recognise as national, internet sales of nearly-new cars.

When changes to the pan-European Block Exemption regulations allowed genuine multi-franchising, Nidd Vale led again. They knocked down the walls, allowing customers to wander freely from Vauxhall to Seat to Saab to Mazda with only a change of carpet indicating the change of brand.

Once again, the vehicle manufacturers weren’t happy, but there was nothing they could do about it. And maybe that’s where it all went wrong.

Apparently, relations between the company and one of its major franchise partners broke down five years ago over redevelopment plans and things have never been the same since. It’s certainly true you can upset the car makers once too often in this business and the latest Block Exemption rules will only serve to strengthen their hand.

In a world where consolidation seems inevitable and global brands prevail, let’s hope there’s still a place for the innovative little guy – otherwise, what would we journalists find to write about?

Rupert Saunders

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