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True Blue approach to finance problems

Reaching out to the “disenfranchised and credit-impaired car buyer by treating them correctly” is the avowed aim of Warrington-based Blue Motor Finance and its sales director Peter Critchley.

But moving the company from brokerage to mainstream ‘non-prime’ consumer lending is no philanthropic indulgence as Critchley predicts £250m-worth of business in a “relatively short period of time”.

He also talks up strategic partnerships with top 10-retail groups, within an eventual 5,000-outlet network, cutting proposal turnaround times to 15 minutes and offering loans of up to £25,000 for all car buyers.

Bankrolled with £7m start-up capital from the USA Oakwood Group, Blue claims to be “building prime processes into a sub prime world” via a web-based scorecard credit-rating system.

Critchley admits that senior Blue managers asked “serious questions” about how they should succeed when a lengthening list of firms has failed or abandoned sub-prime.

“Our partnerships with major retailer groups removes the image of lad and dad operations, working from a Portakabin,” he says. “In the past, sub-prime involved people nicking deals off the back of dealer refusals. Efficiency is poor in a market with an average of seven deals signed from 100 proposals. We will work on a rate-for-risk profiling basis.”

Blue Motor Finance’s business plan is based on 9m people “suffering difficulty in obtaining credit”. That should translate into £3.9bn-worth of business within the sector by 2008.

Its clientele is consciously designated non-prime not sub prime, explains Critchley, on the basis of a wide spectrum of people seeking ways back into the finance market. These are people who had adverse credit but are not habitual bad payers. “We have a correct way of treating them,” he adds.

On arrears Critchley says: “Our collection process starts the moment they sign up. The direct debit falls when they get paid, not on a random monthly due date.”

He adds: “We have a six-tier, rate-to-risk lending structure, not a one-size fits all approach. It is spectacularly quicker and more efficient and is aimed at non prime customers who buy one in 10 of all used cars.”

Blue claims it can restore lost retailer sales, profits and cash flow with its electronic move into a troubled market. The process goes live on April 10.

Blue’s trading name is the result of founder and managing director John Byrne’s life-long passion for Everton FC, for which his father played.

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