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Roberts goes solo with Skoda

Royce Roberts, the 56-year-old former volume dealership director of JCT600, has acquired an outlet at Hull through Skoda’s sponsored retailer programme.

The site is next to a large Tesco supermarket on the Hull to Beverley road and was previously owned by Barkers Motor Group.

As reported in AM’s July 8 issue, Barkers wants to expand with PSA’s brands – it has Citroën outlets in Grimsby (and a Skoda franchise), South Milton and Richmond, plus Peugeot at Malton.

Roberts retained the dealership’s staff of 22 and they have together all played a part in a £90,000 refurbishment of the premises.

New tiles were laid in the 12-car showroom, which is big enough to take 25 units.

There are new offices, a modernised workshop and a freshly landscaped area around the dealership.

Royce Roberts Skoda sold 40 new and used cars during the first month while this was happening.

A regional advertising and marketing programme has now been launched leading up to the official opening in mid-September.

Roberts has set a target for 2009 of 400 new Skodas and 400 used units.

Volkswagen Group approached him nearly a year ago to talk about financial backing under Skoda’s scheme for retail entrepreneurs.

Jack and John Tordoff, who head JCT600, did not want Roberts to leave but provided references. When the deal with Skoda was clinched they paid for him to have a two-week holiday at Skibo Castle in Scotland.

Roberts has committed £150,000 of his own money (with his home on line as security), and Skoda is lending an undisclosed sum interest-free for a decade.

“My decision might look reckless to some people in the current economic climate,” he said.

“But I wanted to run my own business before it was too late, and plan to build the business by introducing old-fashioned values – looking after customers properly.”

Roberts started work at 15 as an indentured apprentice with Kennings at Goole.

His father was a bus driver who always wanted to own a Rolls-Royce, which is how his son gained a distinctive first name.

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