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Experian to benefit as rival announces closure

Trader Data Systems (TDS), Trader Media Group’s vehicle provenance and mileage checking business, has been closed just 16 months after its launch.

Sales of TDS’s Vehicle Check – which checked whether a car had been stolen or clocked, had a number plate change, had outstanding finance or had been involved in a major accident – ceased on February 20. All of its existing customers will be given a two-month period to allow them to change to a new supplier.

TDS has already agreed a deal with Experian to enable smooth transfer of customers to its vehicle data checking platform.

Matt Thompson, TMG marketing director, said: “We believe Experian provides the best continuity in service for TDS customers.”

TDS launched in October 2006 promising to shake up the vehicle provenance sector which was dominated by two companies – Experian and HPI.

In many ways it succeeded, possibly too well, and that was arguably the cause of its downfall.

Experian and HPI have both acknowledged privately that TDS forced them to reassess their services and the value they offered customers. TDS undercut both on price, which forced them to realign their fees.

Consequently, TDS found it difficult to win business by simply competing on price. “The marketplace became hugely competitive – it was too competitive to make a reasonable return,” said Thompson. “It was sensible to say ‘no’ and refocus elsewhere.”

Kirk Fletcher, managing director of Experian’s Automotive division, said trading conditions had become tougher.

“The announcement today is an unfortunate outcome of this and we have been working closely with the Trader Media Group for the past few months on a migration plan that will ensure that the closure takes place with the minimum amount of disruption to Trader Data Systems’ dealer clients,” he said.

“The core priority for both TMG and Experian throughout the transition period is the client and so a dedicated team has been put in place to help facilitate the change.”

n Industry rumours are spreading that Norwich Union is considering selling its HPI operation. The company wouldn’t comment directly on the speculation, but said in a statement to AM: “We announced last autumn that we are reviewing our operating model for HPI, RAC, Auto Windscreens and BSM. This review is still under way.”

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