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AM's Top 10 most -read car retail sector news stories from 2021

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After what has been described as a “topsy turvey” 2021, with trading challenges leading to record profits for many businesses, AM looks back at its top 10 most-read stories.

From acquisitions and consolidation, through the shift from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles (EV), the adoption of the agency retail model and court cases, AM has covered it and readers have lapped it up.

As the AM team wishes you a happy New Year and encourages retailers to take their first steps to making 2022 an award-winning New Year with entries to the fast-approaching AM Awards, we also invite you to reflect on the issues that attracted most attention online over the past 12 months.

  1. Marshall signage at a JLR Arch Concept dealershipConstellation Automotive’s £201.6m Marshall Motor Group offer ‘accepted’: On November 29 Constellation Automotive’s £201.6m offer for a 64.4% controlling stake in Marshall Motor Group was described as a “done deal” after an ‘undertaking to accept’ was published via the London Stock Exchange. The BCA and cinch owner confirmed it had received “an irrevocable undertaking to accept the Offer from Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited” just two days after its initial approach to the top AM100 PLC was revealed.
  2. Stellantis logoStellantis car dealers issued termination notices amid future distribution plan: On May 19 Stellantis revealedthat it would issue all of its UK and European franchised car retail partners with two-year termination notices as part of a reorganisation of its distribution networks ahead of the introduction of new Block Exemption rules. Franchisees from the OEM giant’s Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen, DS Automobiles, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep franchises were alerted to the changes in a virtual conference calls with its UK boss Alison Jones and Vauxhall managing director Paul Willcox.
  3. Vertu Motors chief executive, Robert ForresterVertu Motors CEO Robert Forrester to appear on ITV’s Undercover Big Boss: On July 14 AM reported that Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester would be appearing in the forthcoming series of ITV’s hit reality television series Undercover Big Boss. Forrester took to the showroom floor to discover more about the Vertu and Bristol Motors business after the series was commissioned for a new season.
  4. Inchcape CEO accused of 'untruths' as High Court JLR dealership case is dismissed: On October 18 AM reported that a High Court judge had concluded that former Inchcape UK chief executive James Brearley appeared prepared to “tell untruths” after dismissing a case that a law firm’s negligence prevented him from opening a Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Wolverhampton. Brearley had been pursuing a case alleging that negligent advice from Higgs & Sons had led to collapse of his plans to open his own JLR dealership in Wolverhampton after he resigned from his directorship at former AM100-topping group Pendragon and set-up his own business in 2015.
  5. Trevor Finn, former Pendragon chief executiveFormer Pendragon CEO Trevor Finn joins Ford ‘super dealer’ Hedin Group: January 19, 2021, brought the news that former Pendragon chief executive Trevor Finn had been appointed as a non-executive director of Sweden’s Hedin Group after the business completed the acquisition of Ford of Sweden. Hedin Group announced earlier that same week that it had secured a deal with Ford Motor Company to fulfil a role as both the country’s importer and retailer after completing the acquisition, which includes 74 retail sites across Sweden.
  6. Motorline NissanMarshall acquires £700m AM100 group Motorline: Just over a month prior to Constellation's bid to acquire Marshall Motor Group was made official, the AM100 PLC secured a £64.5 million takeover of 48-site Motorline Holdings from the Obee family. The acquisition, funded from Marshall's existing cash resources, added immediate scale representation with Toyota, Lexus and Hyundai to Marshall's portfolio plus significantly increases its representation of Nissan, Peugeot and Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.
  7. Peter Vardy Group chief executive, Peter VardyPeter Vardy to exit Vauxhall franchise and double used car sales: Peter Vardy Group set out to go head-to-head the likes of cazoo, carzam and cinch early in 2021 when it announced the rebranding and expandsion used car retail division following improved turnover and profitability in its 2019 annual financial results. The Motherwell-based AM100 car retail group revealed on January 4 that it would exit the Vauxhall Motors franchise by the end of June and transform the six franchised dealership sites into used car supermarkets as part of the move to create the Carz operation, which will also drive online sales using the group’s SilverBullet digital car retail platform.
  8. Audi etron at plug-in EV charge pointGovernment plans to curtail sales of ICE cars ahead of 2030 ban: In February last year AM reported that measures to encourage car buyers to opt for electric models ahead of the Government’s planned 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars were expected to be introduced ahead of the cut-off date. Dealers were told to expect a restricted supply of ICE models in the lead up to 2030, with Government intervention likely to include punitive taxation on higher-emitting models.
  9. On track: Aston Martin's Valkyrie hypercarAston Martin to take car dealer to court over Valkyrie hypercar payments: In June it emerged that Aston Martin was set to take a Swiss car dealer to court over allegations that it withheld customer payments for its flagship £2.5 million Valkyrie hypercar. The British car maker is lodging documents with the Swiss criminal prosecutor asking it to investigate the board members of Nebula Project AG and will also bring a civil action against the business.
  10. Volkswagen accused of ‘deception’ after early April Fools' Day prank: At the end of February last year 

    Volkswagen was accused of “deception” and spreading “misinformation” in the US following an early April Fool’s prank which suggested the German car brand was set for a ‘Voltswagen’ rebrand. A press release issued from the brand’s US base at Auburn Hills, Michigan, headlined "Voltswagen: A new name for a new era of e-Mobility", had caused a stir on social media as it appeared a bizarre re-brand tied to its push towards electrification could be on the cards across the Atlantic.

The latest AM industry special issue

The presence of a powerful and active regulator in the marketplace, the Financial Conduct Authority, means there has never been the attention given to the critical driver of new and used car markets, point of sale finance and insurance. 

Plus, with the Consumer Duty soon to be introduced, no automotive manager can afford to relax - or not read our new special report.

The potential risks from failure are substantial. 

Legal experts and finance houses share their views in our Spotlight on Finance & Insurance.

Read now

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