Pendragon has shrunk its network of 10 Tins car supermarkets to just two sites but chief executive Trevor Finn insists the group remains committed to the concept. Launched in May 2000, Tins is Pendragon's new and used car internet sales operation with physical outlets at Doncaster and Stoke-on-Trent.
Finn says: “We now regard the Doncaster and Stoke sites as permanent, as they are performing well. Each of them sells between 75 and 100 cars a month, and that represents the expected stock turn over the same period. We will open more Tins supermarkets where and when we believe they will work for us but never assume they will be permanent.
“The supermarkets are a bolt-on activity. We have operated them at some sites when a piece of land has been temporarily available.”
The sales points are operated separately from Pendragon's Tins internet activity, and come under its Ford division because they are viewed as part of the volume sector of the group.
A Tins supermarket at High Wycombe, Bucks, closed when Pendragon sold the site 18 months ago and another, at Twickenham, Greater London, operated until the land was sold for redevelopment.
Tins at Oldham was attached to a Pendragon Volvo dealership which expanded into the space. A further site in Birmingham closed a few months ago and will be replaced by an as yet unconfirmed franchised dealership.
But Piers Trenear-Thomas, a consultant for Grant Thornton, questions what Tins stands for. “Pendragon should either expand it substantially as an identifiable brand name with a solid business model or subsume it into the rest of the business,” he says. “ At the moment, having a couple of sites is just adding cost.”