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AM Awards: Retail Group (up to ten sites), Lifestyle Europe

Best Retail Group (up to ten sites) sponsored by Autotrader

Lifestyle Europe will soon be needing a bigger trophy cabinet. Last year it scooped the AM Retailer of the Year and Best Retail Group (up to 10 sites) awards; this year it again collects the Best Retail Group (up to 10 sites) category.

Lifestyle also won the prestigious Ford Motor Company Chairman’s Award for CSI last month.

The business was formed in May 2001 in a management buyout of part of the Ford division of HMG Holdings by Marc Matthew (chairman) and Peter Isted (managing director).

With turnover of around £105 million, Lifestyle operates nine dealerships in Kent, Surrey and Sussex with Ford, Renault, Mazda, Subaru and Isuzu franchises. Success has come quickly. 

Matthew and Isted put this down to attention to detail and people. 

Take the business plan, for instance. It is a detailed approach to managing the performance of both the business and the departmental manager.

Used on a daily basis, it tasks the teams with ensuring they deliver the required performance.

Isted is responsible for sales and service. He’s also the details man: he pours over facts and figures that tell him everything about the business on a daily basis.

Matthew oversees parts and corporate. He also has the people focus, with the skills necessary for coaching and leadership.

The two men complement each other perfectly. Lifestyle recruits staff for attitude and trains for skill. “We have the skills to train people, but they have to have the right attitude first,” explains Matthew.

Its staff turnover is below 15%. An in-house training programme ensures all staff are able to cope in a professional manner. Last year, the training programme was extended to train the managers of the future. 

The company has also introduced an online induction programme for all recruits which encompasses its health and safety programme with testing and certification.

Lifestyle operates as a retailer in a retail environment, a point emphasised by its housekeeping, staff presented in uniforms and on-brand point of sale material.

Matthew and Isted operate a ‘hands on’ management style. They are involved in the detailed daily operational activities in all departments with regular review meetings covering stocks, debtors, working capital usage and staff issues. Particular attention is paid to achieving operational excellence.

It’s paying off: growth, profit-ability and now awards in abundance – Lifestyle Europe goes from strength to strength.


  • Colin Appleyard Cars
  • Drive Motor Retail
  • Gilder Group 

See the awards photo gallery.

Read full coverage of the AM Awards in the 6 March 09 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.






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