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Supermart operator outlines chain plans

A new car supermarket has opened a £11m 10-acre site in the Midlands and is drawing up plans to launch five more outlets in the UK. Available Cars says it wants to change the way people buy vehicles and says its new operation near Castle Donnington will eventually create 90 new jobs.

It already has a 65 staff dealing with a stock of 700 vehicles - a selection of new Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz and BMW models sourced from UK and European suppliers, as well as vans, ex-fleet and used private cars. Donnington Car Centre, which previously owned the site, which serves the Derby, Nottingham and Leicester area, has moved to a seven-acre, 1000-car outlet in Burton-on-Trent.

Available Car's aggressive strategy includes a multi-million pound investment programme which will culminate in the opening of five new strategically located car supermarkets. General manager Paul Arscott says the second site will be opened by the end of 2003, and that plans for the site are at an advanced stage. The firm is looking at buying existing and greenfield developments in territories outside its Donnington catchment.

Arscott puts the firm's success down to its innovative retail strategy, which “tries to break the mould of car retailing by operating a no pressure, low price, easy to choose philosophy”.

“Our approach is to have the lowest prices and lowest finances rates from the outset rather than setting prices and finance interest rates higher only to bring them down if the customer starts to haggle,” says Arscott.

The news comes after a wave of aggressive expansion plans launched by some of the UK's biggest car supermarkets, including Slough-based Trade Sales. Available Cars is owned by the Graham Bell Group of companies, which is projecting a turnover of more than £120m for this financial year. It also owns the Ford of Winsford dealership in Cheshire, and expects to sell more than 14,000 new and used cars by the end of the year.

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