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'Caged tiger' Marshall CEO emerged from COVID isolation to complete Motorline deal

Daksh Gupta, Marshall Motor Holdings chief executive

Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta was described as a “caged tiger” after COVID-19 isolation kept him locked away ahead of completion of today’s Motorline acquisition.

Gupta told AM the infection had forced him into isolation as the £64.5m acquisition of the £700m turnover group drew towards its successful conclusion in the early hours of this morning (October 14) - his first day of freedom for over a week.

Now he cannot wait to meet some of his 1,500 new colleagues in-person, he said.

“My chairman has been telling me that I’ve been like a caged animal, locked away in the top floor of my home for 10 days,” he said.

“I would have loved to have done some visits and met Motorline colleagues in-person, but I was able to record a video welcoming them all to Marshall and the response has been great. My inbox is filling-up.”

'Strategic logic'

In an interview with AM back in August, Gupta insisted that Marshall would not be “splashing the cash” after record H1 financial results left it with a strong balance sheet.

Its Motorline acquisition adds 48 sites to the Marshall portfolio, made up of: Toyota (13 sites), Toyota Commercial Vehicles (1 site), Hyundai (7 sites), Nissan (7 sites), Lexus (5 sites), Peugeot (4 sites), Volkswagen (4 sites), Audi (3 sites), Skoda (3 sites), Maserati (1 site), plus it operates four Volkswagen Group TPS businesses and five used car centres.

Gupta said: “The strategic logic behind the deal is there for all to see. If I’d asked you where we should be looking to expand, you’d look at the map of our business (detailed in AM's earlier report on the acquisition) and say ‘you need to go to Kent, into Sussex and across to the Bristol area. It really is perfect.”

He added: “I have to thank Volkswagen Group for their faith. We’re number one representative of VW in the UK, then to give us their vote of confidence to go further is a huge vote of confidence for us in the future.”

Gupta pointed out the growth of its representation with Nissan and Peugeot, but highlighted the relationships with Toyota, Lexus and Hyundai as being “massive”.

The group is now Hyundai’s second-biggest UK retail partner, and Gupta added: “These three brands are massive.

“In terms of Toyota and Lexus, I have never seen any manufacturer sign off their support to a new partner on that scale.

“These are brands that consistently appear at the top of the NFDA’s Dealer Attitude Survey, year after year. It’s a great addition for us.”

Rising stock

Marshall’s share price had risen by 7.5%, to a record 260p, when AM spoke to Gupta this morning.

He highlighted that, while the business is a PLC, its top seven shareholders – with ownership of more than 90% of the business – are senior leadership and management in the business, with management owning 4%.

This drive “good behaviours” in the business, Gupta said, ensuring stability for the long term.

The scale brought by the Motorline acquisition will also bring stability, he said.

“A bigger business makes you more financially strong, we’ll also have bigger budgets so we can invest more. Certainly it allows us to continue to market on TV,” he said.

Marshall customers will now have access to 22,000 vehicles among its new, used and demonstrator stock, he said.

“That added customer choice, ultimately, will help us to sell more cars.”

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