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Cook plans Virgin growth

Derek Cook, the newly appointed managing director of Virgin Cars, is planning to open 12 supersites over the next five years as he transforms the business into a volume retailer. Cook is also planning to make inroads into the fleet sector by targeting small businesses.

“Within three months, we hope to be selling 1,000 cars a month through the website and the call centre. Going forward from April, we have set a target of selling 24,000 cars a year through these channels,” says Cook, who also runs the internet-based Motor Solutions business.

Now he is planning to widen the range of cars on sale at Virgin's existing Manchester dealership and integrate his own staff to hit a target of 300 vehicle sales a month. During the first day of trading under Cook's reign, the site broke all its existing records, notching up 36 sales with no marketing support. This was achieved, says Cook, by introducing a wider range of mass market cars. Cook, the former chairman of the failed DC Cook motor group, completed a deal to take over loss-making Virgin Cars for an undisclosed sum on Friday. He takes a 25% stake and intends to rebrand Motor Solutions with the Virgin Cars name.

The Virgin Group will retain a 25% shareholding with the option to increase this to 50%. John Jackson, a Virgin Group director, will become chairman of the enlarged group while Cook will run the business on a day-to-day basis.

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