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MG Rover: Industry’s ‘foot and mouth’ says minister

Trade minister Alun Michael, has compared MG Rover’s demise to the foot and mouth crisis in 2000.

His comments came at the autoretailing 05 dealer convention, AM’s latest event held on Wednesday at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

In his speech to 250 delegates, Michael said he was confident the sector will recover from the collapse of MG Rover. He compares it to the foot and mouth crisis that affected the farming industry a few years ago. It has since recovered and is enjoying a boom year. Michael said he hopes motor retailers will follow its lead.

He also said the motor sector should be reassured that the Government is taking action to support businesses by streamlining regulation.

“We’re trying to change the culture within the Government and continue regulation with a lighter touch,” Michael said.

With more than two years of planning, Emap Automotive launched the autoretailing 05 Dealer Convention at Birmingham's International Convention Centre this week. The successful launch has now been established as an annual event on the AM calendar.

The Autoretailing Convention is a partnership between AM’s parent company Emap and the Retail Motor Industry Federation.

Its chief executive, Matthew Carrington says: “autoretailing 05 was a resounding hit, and the first of many future collaborations between Emap and the RMI. Part of the reason for the event’s success was the strong relationship that exists between Emap and the RMI. Our two organisations worked closely together and the result is a new event that is being seen as a winner in the retail motor sector, and beyond”.

Day one was a traditional conference, focused on strategy. Delegates heard a succession of presenters, including Alun Michael MP, the secretary of state for trade; Roger Penske, chairman and CEO of United Auto Group, America's second biggest dealer group which sells one car every two minutes; and Sahar Hashemi, the co-founder of Coffee Republic.

The conference was moderated by TV newsreader Huw Edwards.

The prestigious AM100 Dinner which followed, saw the unveiling of the top 100 motor dealers in the UK and the audience were entertained by television personality, comedian and writer, Dominic Holland.

Day two, following a keynote address from Kwik-Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer CBE, featured a series of management workshops designed to help the industry improve its skills, ranging from how to sell more finance to customers, managing your used car stock more effectively and maximising profit from your data and turning your managers into leaders.

An extra benefit for delegates attending the workshops was that attendance attributed towards their Institute of the Motor Industry Continuing Professional Development certificate.

The event also attracted an impressive level of commercial activity – including Experian Automotive the headline sponsor, Grant Thornton, Auto Trader, Exchange & Mart and BCA, plus a number of other companies in the exhibition area.

  • For full coverage of the conference plus the latest AM100 see AM issue July 1.

    Trade Minister, Alun Michael at autoretailing 05

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