One Stop Car Shop has closed its two high street offices, in Bournemouth and Chiswick, London, as it shifts focus onto call centres.
The independent car buying service originally planned to open 80 UK retail outlets within five years of its launch two years ago. Now it plans to set up more call centres, adding to the recently acquired site in Bournemouth. Hugo Mackenzie Smith, One Stop Car Shop managing director, said staff had been transferred to the new 5,500 sq. ft. call centre from the two retail sites.
“Operating a call centre and a chain of high street shops is complex and demanding,” he said. “There was no future for high street shops because the margins on selling cars were too low and the rent too expensive.
“We intend to grow on the back of a low cost base and low margins.”
Mr Mackenzie Smith claimed the retail outlets had been convenient for building awareness of the One Stop brand, although most customers, who transacted over the phone, were surprised the company had a high street presence.
One Stop retails around 60 cars a month – 85% used and 15% new. Sales have been boosted by the affinity deal set up last year with insurer Groupama; One Stop sources replacements for policyholders whose cars have been written off.
Turnover this year is expected to reach £7.5m, double the level in 2000 and Mr Mackenzie Smith is “hopeful” of a 40% increase next year.
“We expect to be selling up to 200 cars a month by November 2002,” he said. “At that point we will open a call centre in the north, possibly in Sheffield.”
One Stop is close to setting up two more affinity deals with insurers. It offers branded services for two “well-known companies”, sourcing replacement cars for an accident management company and used cars for a new car supplier.