The new managing director at AM100 motor retailer Howards Motor Group says a focus on aftersales and finance renewals will help his team build on the group’s successful 2022, even if some consumers are watching their costs carefully.
Chris Lee was officially promoted to the MD role earlier this month, 25 years after he joined the Weston-super-Mare based business as an apprentice technician.
In the subsequent years, he worked his way through numerous roles in the company, becoming franchise director and, latterly, operations director since mid-2021.
Having grown revenues to £170 million in 2022 and maintained profitability in line with the prior year, Howards Motor Group is optimistic about a solid result in 2023 too.
“There’s always a result to be had. There’s definitely this mindset with us, that by working smart with our aftersales customers and working on customer and vehicle lifetime value in our finance renewals, we can maintain good business even if the market is in a very difficult state,” said Lee.
Lee’s promotion concludes a restructure of Howards’ senior team.
It now consists of retail operations directors Danny Street, Tony Lippe and Stuart Mackintosh, all promoted from within the business, and marketing director Louise Devine, also promoted within the company, while group head of communications and standards Chris Lynch was recruited from Peugeot UK and chief financial officer Mark Eggar joined from insurance firm WPA.
Jonathan Coleman (left in picture), son of group chairman Peter Coleman (right in picture), has also joined the board as executive director, having worked in the business since he was aged 16.
Peter Haynes, who retired from the managing director role at the end of 2022, is now a non-executive director.
Coleman said: “It is an exciting time for Howards and the industry in general. Chris is a talented, dynamic and enthusiastic leader who is ideally placed to drive the daily performance of our business. Having strong and clear leadership will really ensure we can perform to our full potential as a business during a period of industry change and business expansion."
Lee has a wealth of experience within the industry and has had full operational control of the business since late 2021 & throughout 2022, a period of exceptional performance for the group.
Having been part of Howards Group for 25 years within various key roles, he is exceptionally placed to continue to lead and steer the business through this next period with a strategic plan focused on growth and delivering good outcomes for customers, including an exceptional customer experience, said Coleman.
Lee added: “I’m delighted to have officially taken on the role of managing director for the group, in what is an exciting period of growth for our business.
"In preparation for this transition, I have restructured and added to our exceptionally talented senior leadership team over the past year to ensure that we have unparalleled strength and dynamic energy to accelerate our performance in all areas.
"People, processes and ensuring that we engineer our customer offerings to meet their varied preferences is key to our success, in addition to continuing growing and nurturing our relationships with our manufacturer partners.”
Lee told AM that Howards Motor Group, which ranked 92 in the latest AM100 and which holds franchises for Citroen, DS, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, MG, Nissan, Peugeot, Suzuki and Toyota, has had “a really good start to 2023” and is positive about the months ahead.
“Our forward order bank for the majority of our brands puts us in really good shape.
"The brands are beginning to stretch on their numbers now, and we’re very much into a growth period which is an interesting one when you add in the dynamic that the stock situation continues for many of them.
“I think it could be a much more competitive March, much more so than we’ve seen over the last three or four plate changes.”
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