Thinking back on 2016, it has been a year of shocks and surprises. But it has also been a period of a fair few innovations.
At the beginning of the year, it seemed possible that the UK’s referendum on its membership of the European Union would merely send a strong message that we expected changes to the organisation. However, instead, we are set to leave. It also probably seemed unlikely back then that America would choose Donald Trump to be its next president.
In our industry, there have also been a few surprises. Marc Matthew and Peter Isted sold their AM award-winning dealer group, Lifestyle Europe, to Hendy Group. Wessex Garages was taken over by Japanese-owned VT Holdings, and US-owned Group 1 Automotive grew its UK footprint rapidly by acquiring Spire Automotive.
Innovations have included SsangYong embedding sales-focused ‘customer champions’ in authorised repairers around the M25 after struggling to fill open points in London, and Group 1 partnering with Seat to open a permanent retail ‘store’ at Lakeside Shopping Centre near London.
Away from the capital, Peter Vardy has developed its second CarStore customer-centric used car outlet at Dundee, and Pendragon continues to roll out its Car Store sites to secure a national footprint for its Evans Halshaw Move Me Closer online car purchase service.
With all of that in the background, who knows what the next 12 months have in store?
In any case, I and the AM team wish you a Merry Christmas, and a prosperous 2017.