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Lipscomb Cars officially opens £5m Canterbury Volvo showroom

Lipscomb Cars' new Volvo Car UK showroom near Canterbury

Lipscomb Cars has celebrated the official opening of its new £5 million Volvo dealership in Canterbury after delays caused by COVID-19.

The Maidstone-based car retail group’s plans to open its new dealership on the A28 at Chartham, Canterbury, were held up by three months due to the pandemic, but the group has now opened the doors to the facility which has been developed as part of a restructure of the group’s operations.

Las week AM reported that Lipscomb had gained planning permission to create a residential development on the site of its Ashford Fiat and Abarth franchised dealership.

The group revealed last month that it plans to relocate its workforce from Ashford to its current site at Chartham.

Further plans to develop the Chartham site have yet to be revealed, but Lipscomb’s plans to consolidate are expected to see staff grow across both it and its Maidstone facility to between 50 and 60.

Lipscomb’s 2.5-acre facility just off J6 of the M20 at Aylesford, Maidstone, also operate Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Fiat and Abarth franchises, including a central trade parts operation for Kent together with accident management and repairs.

Lipscomb Cars managing director, Peter BarnesCommenting on the first step of those restructure plans following the delayed opening of the Canterbury Volvo facility, Peter Barnes, the managing director of Lipscomb Cars, said: “We are thrilled to be unveiling our new dealership facility, it’s been wonderful to see the reactions of our customers as the build has taken place alongside the existing facility giving them a great insight as it has developed and our first visitors have been delighted with the layout and concept .

“The launch of our new Volvo Personal Service at this dealership will help to connect our customers with their technicians for a smooth and efficient experience, we have already implemented this concept at our Maidstone Volvo dealership and it is working very well.

Inside Lipscomb Cars' new Volvo Car UK showroom near Canterbury“Our focus is always on putting the customer first and giving them a high-quality service which they know and can trust.

“We are settling in and are raring to show off our new showroom, so look forward to welcoming customers new and old for a cup of coffee and a chat about their car purchase and servicing needs in a safe, clean and socially-distanced experience, allowing customers to visit us in complete confidence.”

Lipscomb ‘s new site conforms to Volvo’s VRE corporate identity and will introduce ‘Volvo Personal Service’, which sees technicians liaise with customers from the point of booking, right through to explaining the services.

The lounge area at Lipscomb Cars' new Volvo Car UK showroom near CanterburyThe group also revealed that no refreshments will be served using single-use plastics at the facility as the business also looks to drive the Swedish brand’s aim pledge to turn the tide on plastic waste as part of a bigger ambition to ensure at least 25% of the plastics used in every newly launched Volvo car will be made from recycled material from 2025.

Last week AM revealed how Volvo’s CI had recently triggered controversy in planning proceedings at Bolton Council.

Planning officials in Bolton gave way to Volvo Car UK corporate identity (CI) demands after alleged "threats" over the potential withdrawal of a scheme to build a new showroom in the city.

Bolton Council officials agreed to allow overnight lighting for security reasons and opening hours of 7.30am until 8pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sundays after originally flagging up the need for restrictions as conditions of planning approval for the development.

The Bolton News newspaper reported that, at Bolton’s first virtual committee meeting held online via video conference on Thursday (June 25), after Matthew Wyatt, senior planner at PWA Planning, wrote to members of the planning committee on behalf of the applicant Euro Garages stating: “These matters are absolute deal-breakers.”

AM webinar: The AM Motor Retail Review (Monday July 6 at 2pm)

This 45-minute webinar will discuss the UK motor retail industry’s achievements in the first month of trading since lockdown ended for England’s car dealers, including:

· June’s new car registrations and used car opportunities.

· The lessons learned from social distanced trading.

· How dealers balance the return to trading and their need to limit their costs.

· Prospects for Q3 and critical steps for success.

Chaired by AM editor Tim Rose, his invited guests will include senior executives of AM100 dealers, suppliers and OEMs, who’ll share their own experiences since lockdown ended and outline some ways dealers can sustain their business recovery.

Rose said: “This is a crucial moment for UK motor retail. The new car registrations data from the first month since lockdown will tell us how strongly the industry is fighting back, and there’ll be feedback on how customers and staff are coping with new processes and PPE in showrooms.

“The lessons of the last few weeks must help motor retail prepare for Q3 and the looming plate-change campaign.”

Guest speakers signed up so far:

Tim Duckers, Cambria Automobiles

Duckers is the motor division managing director of AM100 motor retailer Cambria Automobiles, working alongside chief executive Mark Lavery to lead a portfolio of franchised dealerships from volume mainstream such as Vauxhall and premium brands such as Jaguar Land Rover to high luxury brands such as Bentley and Rolls Royce.

Steve Le Bas, BDO

Le Bas is the head of motor retail at accountants and business advisers BDO. He has some 20 years’ experience working with motor trade clients, including statutory audits, assisting their internal accounting functions and conducting due diligence assignments for prospective motor trade purchasers.

Dale Wyatt, Suzuki GB

As head of automobile at Suzuki GB, Wyatt is responsible for the brand health of Suzuki cars and splits his time between working with the UK management team, Suzuki’s dealer network and the parent company in Japan.

Ian Plummer, Auto Trader

Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, joined the car sales platform in 2017 after heading sales operations and franchise management at Volkswagen UK and before 15 years at Renault in roles at both the UK sales company and the head office in Paris.

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