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Michael Edwards: why the top MG dealer prefers a low-tech approach

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Without a social media profile, expensive showroom fittings or furniture, coffee bar, Wi-Fi, gaming consoles, children’s play area or tablet-armed salespeople, the single-site Michael Edwards Group business has been singled out as a shining light in one brand’s sales network. 

♦ See more images of Michael Edwards MG here

The roadside dealership in Wigan, Lancashire, with a single-bay workshop, could be described as ‘old-school’. Its 20-car showroom is enclosed by glass on three sides with doors at the front and sides and offices to the rear. The building is just over 10 years old and there is little evidence it has had a corporate identity makeover in that time.

Michael Edwards is not an exceptional business in this regard. Yet MG singled it out as its most successful in the UK. Director Mike Latimer is confident he will exceed the brand’s sales target of 100 new cars this year and is confident he can sell between 150 and 200 next year.

Latimer puts the success down to a combination of an uncomplicated approach to sales and a similarly direct one from his franchise partner, plus MG’s “fantastic” small car, the MG3’s, sensible, no-haggle, pricing and generous specification.

“There’s a tendency in the business to overcomplicate matters. In an ideal world, manufacturers should price cars at the value they would sell them for,” Latimer said.

“Why price a car at £25,000, if you will sell it for £20,000 two weeks after you’ve launched it? It means customers are always waiting for the next deal. They know from the outset they can get the price down.”

“No one buys a sofa unless there’s a sale on – and there’s always a sale on. I believe the same mentality drives the car industry.”

Latimer’s showroom can accommodate up to 20 cars. He has 10 MG3s on show and will have a single MG6 soon. He has a couple of other makes of used cars inside and more outside on the half-acre site.

There is little MG branding – fascia signage, a totem outside, a ‘colour and personalisation’ board, plus a touchscreen configurator. Latimer doesn’t see this as a weakness: “Customers of high-end brands would more likely expect a certain standard of showroom – the latest tiles, furniture and tech.

“But when I see the same standard applied to mainstream brands, the impact on customers can be intimidating, leaving the impression of the nicer the showroom, the more they think they can charge. It can pay off for the dealer as margins can be higher.”



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Comments

  • R Grubba - 25/11/2014 13:13

    I couldn't disagree more strongly with this article. I was sent there by MG Cars to test drive the new MG and the way we were treated meant that we ended up buying a new MG3 from Pinkstones in Stoke. I can't recommend Pinkstones enough they are the difference between brilliant dealer and a appalling one like Edwards. A back street car lot is more helpful and inviting than Edwards.

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    • gezza06 - 25/11/2014 14:06

      @R Grubba - I think he's got it quite right, there are far too many gin palaces out there. And as they are the most successful dealer, that seems to confirm his approach appeals to customers. Perhaps they were having a bad day when you called :-)

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  • Jock Gibbon - 25/11/2014 17:44

    My mum dealt with Pinkstones and Michael Edwards, buying a 12reg MG6 Magnette TSE in 2013 and a 14reg MG3 3Style Lux in 2014, both are lovely dealers

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  • Mark Oldfield. - 26/11/2014 15:46

    "There is a tendency in the business to over complicate matters." spot on statement.Probably why they are the top dealer .

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  • Andrew Howells - 26/11/2014 17:52

    It would be really interesting to understand a bit more about how the dealership attracts potential customers and then sells to them? Is it all about 'bums on seats' sell cars? Are their customers mostly walk-ins? What happens with an out of area enquiry?

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  • Jack - 03/12/2014 00:54

    low tech? How are customers finding the cars? Newspaper ads and just walking in and asking what's in stock? I bet he has a stunningly organised sales process which converts customers that have researched their vehicles online, on AutoTrader / Motors / AA Cars etc...

    Dealers my be low tech but customers are not... If he's this successful without embracing technology just imagine...

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  • RTR - 05/12/2014 19:47

    Good for him , I think he's right on the Gin Palace bit , Bentley Yes , MG - Keep it simple and straightforward.

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  • gerallt evans - 17/12/2014 15:11

    I agree, as a toyota dealer we are loosing market share as our high tech showroom frightens coustomers

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  • John Palmer Queensberry Road Garage Kettering - 21/12/2014 12:10

    My sentiments entirely

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  • Richard - 26/05/2015 22:50

    Edwards are no longer MG dealers....

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