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New retail park concept

Property developer Richville Ltd is promising a new concept in motor retailing with the launch next autumn of an eight-franchise motor retail park in north Tyneside.

Vroom is being pitched as a new car retail experience. With capacity for more than 700 vehicles, the developer says the eight-acre, £10m flagship site reinforces Silverlink as the number one destination for quality new and used cars in the north east.

“If you want to buy a car, Vroom is going to be the premier site for motorists to visit,” says spokesman Duncan McGregor.

“We saw a niche in the market for a concept that has been tried, tested and proven in Europe. We’ve already signed up two car dealers and three further sales plots are under offer.

“The benefit for retailers is that they can take prime facilities at the best location in the North East without making a full capital commitment.”

Vroom will serve as a one-off sales operation for dealers and manufacturers without representation in the area, as well as complementing existing local franchised and independent businesses.

The site can accommodate eight operators, each with a 2,100sq ft showroom and 2,700sq ft ancillary PDI/service unit. Each retailer will have space to display between 77 and 98 cars externally.

Richville partners in the project are developer Circle Red Properties and property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton and GVA Grimley.

David Nicholson, director of Lambert Smith Hampton in Newcastle, says: “Vroom has been a project three years in the making. The flagship site at Silverlink is the ideal location.”

But the head of one multi-franchised dealer group told AM that the concept leaves several questions unanswered. He says many owner-drivers rely on the eventual selling of their freehold – an option naturally unavailable to those who rent a site.

He also says that the investment of between £150,000 and £250,000 required may prove too expensive for many, raising the risk of going bust.

“If I were thinking of being involved, I would certainly want something like two years rent-free to get established,” he says.

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