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‘Difficult decisions’ for Scottish retailers

Scottish dealers face an uncertain future due to unacceptable levels of return, according to Sandy Burgess, president of the Scottish Motor Traders Association (SMTA).

Speaking at the SMTA’s annual dinner, Burgess called for manufacturers to suspend their “unrealistic demands” in showroom facilities investment until profitability improves.

“We are experiencing turbulent trading conditions and with the constant threat of an interest rate rise and the normal winter slow selling period almost upon us, there will be many dealers who will be faced with some very difficult decisions with regard to the future,” he says.

“Manufacturers continue to roll out rebranding exercises for their products and demand shares beyond those of the natural market for their vehicles, which have impacted on the operating performance of dealers.”

While registration figures in Scotland rose in October, Burgess says manufacturer incentives and ghost registrations make it almost impossible to properly assess performance.

Registration figures, he claims, are driven by stock levels in the holding compounds. Poor production or sales planning, rather than a market shift, are to blame for pre-registration programmes and increased holding periods for dealers.

Burgess believes the association needs to raise its profile with both retailers and the public.

To meet this objective, the SMTA has announced the return of the Scottish Motor Show in May 2007. The event, which was licensed to SECC in 2002 and last held in 2003, will be incorporated into Scottish Motorfair.

This year, 18,000 people visited Motorfair at the Knockhill racing circuit. SMTA hopes attendance at the two-day event will rise to 25,000 next year. Competitions and discount ticket offers will be promoted through SMTA members.

“It’s a family event that will entertain and excite the Scottish motoring public,” says Burgess.

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