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Face to Face: how serving every market sector is giving Arbury Motor Group its edge

Group turnover was £70 million in 2012 and the business expects to hit £80m in 2013. A lot of that comes down to the new car market – the group’s new car sales are up significantly this year. It sold 3,200 new vehicles last year and was already at the 3,000-unit mark in October.




One of the biggest changes Arbury has introduced in the past 12 months has been to grow its fleet business.

David Stenning said if the business was going to continue being successful, it needed to be operating in every market channel.

“We were only going to do it once we found the right person to run it. We found that person, who was employed within the company, and we’ve grown really from nothing in fleet to 500 units in two years from 100 local businesses.

“Half of the market is fleet and we knew the models coming through with the brands we represent would work well with fleet customers.

“You can’t afford to not be in half the market.”

Arbury has a team of three building fleet business and plans to increase it to six people next year.

Arbury’s long-term goal is to increase fleet volumes across all brands to a total 4,000 units a year.


Stenning acknowledges that the market is strong, with used cars also up 10% and used car margins up 12%.

Every site is profitable and has been for the past few years. Arbury’s top Peugeot site is delivering 4% return on sales, well above the industry average of 1.3%.

What’s behind that level of return? Stenning puts it down to the group’s focus on people. Staff turnover is under 20% and management turnover is at less than 5%. It has never lost a general manager.

Staff have bought in to Arbury’s customer service approach, which has resulted in 98.6% of customers recommending the group’s dealerships to friends and family this year.

Three of Arbury’s dealerships won in Peugeot’s Guild of Gold Lion awards last year. Stenning wants to take all five top spots this year. The dealerships are currently placed in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 18th.

Stenning said: “Performing well in the guild is really important to us. It’s not only what we do financially, it’s how we do it and the standards, our own internal standards rather than manufacturer standards.

“We don’t really look at manufacturer composites because who aspires to be average?”


It’s all about the team

Stenning puts the good customer service scores and

financial results down to the teams across the group: “Everyone says it, but we do operate as a team. We’ve got a great team of managers, we discuss things as a team, and we have a monthly operations meeting which everyone gets involved with.”

There are no operations managers and communication in person or on the phone is preferred over email.

One of the biggest problems facing the industry is finding the right people. Stenning admits it’s one of the most difficult parts of running a successful group.

“Two of our good general managers started with us as salesmen, another started as a body shop manager,” he said. “So they’ve come from within. If you find the right people, you look after them, you treat them properly, pay them well and talk to them.”

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