He is also keen to ensure that franchised dealers have a strong voice on the key industry issues. Williams replaces Alec Murray, who was recently inducted into the AM Hall of Fame. Murray became NFDA chairman for the second time last year, after Jardine chief executive Eamon Bradley quit the position.
“I’m not naturally a committee man,” says Williams, who is committing two days per month to the NFDA. “But the franchised dealer business needs a trade association that can debate issues of the industry. Without a strong association, franchised dealers have no voice.”
Williams is also a member of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Retail Motor Strategy Group, which brings franchised dealers, independents, manufacturers and suppliers together to discuss topics ranging from an industry code of practice to Block Exemption.
“It is important to understand the manufacturers’ views. If you can identify the differences, you can have a go at reconciling them,” Williams says. “It could be a fantastic industry if the manufacturers and dealers really got on.”
The RMIF was keen to secure a senior franchised retail boss as its next NFDA chairman to give it greater authority within the industry. Williams certainly brings this: he is respected, strong-willed and opinionated, and will not be afraid to challenge retailers, carmakers and the Government.
One top 20 retail group boss told AM: “Paul will not be afraid of standing up and asking searching questions about the NFDA’s own role in the industry – he will make the association more relevant for its members.”
The RMIF has also appointed a new head of public affairs. Josephine Perry will oversee the RMIF’s lobbying in the UK and Brussels, and co-ordinate its public affairs activity across all areas.