A new chief executive, a new strategy: four months after executive chairman Robert Marshall told AM that Marshall Motor Group would not be looking to expand beyond its regional east of England heartland, the man he appointed as chief executive insists it is vital to look further afield for growth.
Daksh Gupta, who took up the post in November, claims the industry has “changed massively” since that interview with Robert Marshall , not least the slide into recession.
“We should be open-minded to opportunities outside our core region. It won’t be Scotland or Wales, but there are lots of towns and cities that offer scaleable opportunities,” he said.
“We have the balance sheet to grow and we are debt-free, but it’s all about the right opportunities.”
Gupta points out that Marshall has always grown during recessions, but he believes there are only limited options for continued expansion within its present regional base.
He is keen to add German marques to the Marshall portfolio.
His focus will be on three key performance levers: operational excellence, customer satisfaction and manufacturer relationships.
Gupta has already reorganised Marshall’s management team from a regional structure to a franchise system with the appointment of five franchise directors:
- Adrian Lewis, previously The Car Shop managing director. He has used car expertise and takes on Chrysler Jeep and Ford.
- Neil Owen, ex-Summit chief operating officer and former Jardine divisional director. He has operational expertise and will be responsible for Vauxhall.
- Chris Sheppard, ex-Camden Retail and Polar Motor Group. He has an aftersales background and takes on Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo.
- Mark Furniss, ex-Inchcape Fleet Solutions finance director who is skilled in KPIs and acquisitions. He will oversee Nissan, Honda cars and motorcycles, Toyota, LDV, DAF and Ford LCV.
- Paul Atkinson, ex-Jardine, becomes interim franchise director for Peugeot and Citroën while a permanent director is sought.
Gupta is also looking for someone to fill a sixth franchise director’s role while, this week, he has promoted Carole Minter to the board as HR director.
He believes the change to a franchise structure is crucial to improve car manufacturer relationships.
“It is difficult to get into the detail of CSI and margins when you have to focus on lots of different franchises.”
He has met and written to all 1,400 employees laying out his expectations and encouraging them to take greater ownership.
“99% of errors are own goals; they are people errors and they happen because we allow them to happen,” Gupta said.
“We are already seeing the early shoots of people taking ownership.”
He added: “Every manufacturer has dealers in the upper quartile making returns of 3%-plus, so every dealer has to ask themselves ‘are we doing everything we can to make money?’.