AM Online

World of Cars' growth suffers 12-month delay

Ken Thorne Cars hopes to open two World of Cars used supermarkets in the South-west next year after suffering a setback to its original expansion plans.

The South Wales dealer group was thwarted in its bid to expand World of Cars into Bristol and Swindon after planning issues. Chairman Ken Thorne, though, is confident of making the move next year.

“We are actively looking for locations in Bristol and Swindon, and possibly one in the Gloucester/Cheltenham area, after losing out on the sites we originally identified,” he said.

“We intend to expand along the M4 corridor because it has good access, both for customers and for us to manage the business.”

The existing World of Cars centres – Cardiff and Neath – are on target to retail 500 cars this year, down from 650 in 2000. Despite the shortfall, which mirrors the nationwide drop in used car sales, World of Cars' profit per unit is up on last year.

Turnover has been boosted with the launch this year of a warranty and finance scheme which includes sub-prime. “The warranty package helps to improve customer satisfaction, but also keeps profit in-house,” said Mr Thorne.

“We launched the finance offer to support customers that have negative equity. There are a lot about because of the reductions in new car prices and we will stand the shortfall to enable them to buy another car.”

He said finance conversion rates were nudging 70%. “We are also doing around 100 sub-prime deals a month – we want all the business we can get.”

Ken Thorne Cars opened a Chrysler Jeep dealership in Swansea last month as part of a £5m multi-marque motor village development in Swansea. It intends to add outlets for Daihatsu and Proton to the centre. All three franchises contribute to the World of Cars business.

The company also hopes to shortly announce new franchise agreements in South Wales with two carmakers.

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