Burrows Motor Group is set to complete a “reimaging” of its franchised car retail operations by moving its flood-prone Rotherham Toyota dealership into a former JCT600 VW site.
The Doncaster-based car retail group’s Toyota business in the South Yorkshire town will open the doors at the former Volkswagen franchised site, on Bawtry Road, Wickersley, on March 1 following a £300,000 investment largely targeting improvements for its aftersales facilities.
Burrows moved into the Rotherham Toyota site when it was acquired from Dixons in 1999 and now plans to operate it as a used car showroom until the its lease officially expires on October 31.
Group managing director, Steve Burrows, told AM that moving the business would progress his business’s planned move into more freehold dealership locations and deliver a shift away from a site which had been devastated by flooding in 2000, 2007 and 2019.
“I’m really pleased with the move,” said Burrows. “The new site is in a really vibrant and upcoming part of Rotherham that aligns really well with where the Toyota brand is right now, rightly competing with Volkswagen as a key premium mainstream player.
“The showroom is located on a dual-carriageway which joins the M18 and M1, so access is great, and it’s overlooked by residential properties, which is always a benefit from a security perspective.”
He added: “Seven of the group’s nine sites are now freehold, which will have a huge impact on the profitability of the group going forward.”
Burrows told AM that ongoing flooding issues at the current Rotherham Toyota site had caused it to evacuate around 40 vehicles from the site as recently as last week as the River Don once again threatened to breach its banks.
The vehicles were taken to the new Toyota site, he said, a facility that features an eight-car showroom and eight-bay workshop.
JCT600 vacated its former Bawtry Road VW site – acquired as part of its 2013 purchase of the Gilder Group – back in June last year, just three years after refurbishing the showroom side of the facility.
It closed its Newark VW site around the same time following a decision made prior to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, group chief executive John Tordoff told AM at the time.
He said: “It’s just hard to make little businesses like Rotherham and Newark viable.”
Burrows is excited about the prospect of moving to his new location, however.
The move follows a restructure of the group in 2018, which saw its operations “reimagined” with withdrawal from the Hyundai and FCA Group franchises through sales to Read Motor Group and Stoneacre Motor Group.
It also expanded its Toyota dealership portfolio with the acquisition of L&S Copcutt in Worksop –taking it to five sites with the brand.
Burrows said that the changes had helped to deliver “the best performance since I’ve had the business” during 2020, in spite of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic’s impact on trading.
“The five Toyota businesses had a record year and our Kia operations are performing really strongly,” he said. “The Mazda sites are improving at the same time.”
Toyota’s UK new car registrations dipped by 12.7%, from 105,192 to 91,793 in 2020, as the Japanese carmaker grew its market share by 1.08ppts to 5.63% in a market down 29.4% overall.
Kia also outpaced the market, with sales which fell 27.5% to 70,537 (2019: 97,323).
Burrows said: “We’re staying positive. I’m really pleased with the changes we’ve made to the business and despite all that we’re facing right now, it’s a really positive period of trading for us.”