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New online business offers community-based car retailing

A new internet business aims to offer a community-based solution to car retailing for dealers and consumers, untangling the web of data offered by nationwide operations.

Three Bournemouth-based businessmen have established, an internet site designed to bring dealers and drivers in the Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire area together, offering a search facility for motoring-related services and products and cars on sale. The site includes contact details for almost 400 franchised and independent dealerships together with classified listings.

Posting a car on the site or a dealership listing, including a location map, is free. A vehicle's details, including a photo, will be displayed for 28 days and users can edit and update their entry at any time. The site makes its money through ad revenue from car dealers and service providers. was established by Derek Underwood, with 20 years experience in the motor trade, Jim O'Dwyer, a former Metropolitan Police officer, and Jim Owen, the webmaster.

Mr O'Dwyer said: “The motivation for the business came from the frustration Derek had at using the web to run his trade buyer business. Web operations trying to handle databases on a national scale and huge numbers of visitors provide little ease of use to a customer wanting to make a quick car-search. They're overloaded with information or kept waiting too long for results.

“To avoid these problems it was necessary to reduce the service area. 'Wessex' represents a community of 7m people. Secondly people still want to shop locally and deal with local people.”

Mr O'Dwyer said there potential for the business to grow was huge. By 2005 everyone in their target area is forecast to have internet access and he is confident that with investment the concept can be extended to other regions.

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