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View from the top: Obsolete parts are big business

Some of the UK’s best motor retailers are those that are able to identify a gap in the market, and create a service which fills that gap. Such is the case with Foray Motor Group.

It operates obsolete parts storage facilities for Ford and Mazda, and by the end of the year will add Citroën to its portfolio.

Parts director Howard Jenkins says many dealers regard obsolete parts as “a dirty word – something everybody is embarrassed by and sees as a failing of their business” because they have been unable to sell them. Yet the service he has developed for them, to enable them to make some return from obsolete stock that may otherwise have been written off as a loss, is now worth almost £1m in annual sales for Foray Motor Group. Once the Citroën programme is operational, this will increase substantially.

It’s a business that has grown quickly. Three years ago, Foray created a central database of obsolete and slow-moving Ford parts for 10 fellow Ford dealers.

It was sent out to the participating dealers on CD-ROM to help them to identify and sell their own slow-moving stock, and also access obsolete parts from other dealers.

Within two years, Foray had almost 50 Ford dealers involved. Then Mazda asked Foray to launch a similar programme for its dealers. “Mazda hadn’t taken back any obsolete parts from its dealers for six years, so there was a lot of pressure out there in the network,” says Jenkins. “Its programme has now been operating for just over 12 months and it’s continuing to grow.” More than a third of Mazda’s 167 dealers now take part.

The Ford programme went online at last year and attracts customers from both the trade and retail sectors internationally. Then, two months ago, Ford of Europe adopted it as its official National Clearance Centre, and began trucking in more than 100 loads of parts previously held at its European distribution centres at Daventry, UK, and Cologne, Germany.

Jenkins says, once the final 40 lorry loads are delivered, the NCC in Amesbury will have more than £12m of Ford obsolete parts in stock. Foray’s second warehouse in Andover holds more than £500,000 of Mazda obsolete parts, and will also house the Citroën programme.

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