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Van registrations rose 20.9% to 24,927 units in April, reflecting the ongoing recovery in the economy.
In the year to date sales of vans were up 22% to 122,702 units, according to figures released by the SMMT.
Sales of trucks rocketed 43.5% for the month and were ahead 41.7% in the year to date.
“With business confidence still on the up, the strong uplift enjoyed in the commercial vehicle market this year has continued into spring,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.
“Demand for new vans is stronger than ever, with the sector recording its 12th consecutive month of growth in April,” he said.
The NFDA said a number of factors lay behind the sales increases.
“Healthy demand is being driven by competitive financial offers from dealers and manufacturers, growth and upsurge in self-employment, the service industries and continual increases in demand for home deliveries via internet sales.”, said NFDA director Sue Robinson.
Pendragon, the UK’s largest dealer group, turned in a strong first quarter with underlying pre-tax profits up 10.4%.
In a trading update it said aftersales gross profits grew by 3.6% in the three months to 31 March..
Gross profits on used cars grew by 2.9% with revenues up 8.4% fuelled by the launch of its click and collect service and expansion of its used car business.
The Click and collect service, launched in February, offers to buy any car from a customer for a price exceeding that offered by the BCA-owned, market leading webuyanyrcar business.
Pendragon recently opened facilities for its used car businesses in Leicester and West Bromwich and will shortly be opening a site in north Leeds.
New gross profit increased 9.9% on a like for like basis, as a result of strong margin and volume improvement in the period.
The company has been growing its website traffic. Online visits to Stratstone.com business, Evanshalshaw.com and Quicks.co.uk grew by 25.6% in the period.
Looking ahead Pendragon said it expected the UK new car sales to reach between 2.5 million and 2.6 million in 2015.
The UK’s largest car dealer said it still expects new car registrations in 2015 to end between 2.5 and 2.6 million units, up from 2.48 million in 2014, and it expects the overall trend towards a greater proportion of new vehicle sales being through the retail channel to continue in the medium term.
It notes a “stabilisation” in the retail market, however, comparing the 11.9% retail registration growth of Q1 2014 with the 1.1% rise in Q1 2015.
In the used car market, Experian data showed an increase of around 2.1% in 2014 and Pendragon said it expects the market to grow in 2015 by between 1% and 2%.
It added: “The aftersales market continues to be favourable for the nearly new vehicle car parc as a result of the new car market increases in the last three years. These favourable conditions will flow into the four to six year old car parc in the coming years.”
The car dealer group expects the sub-three-year-old car parc to grow by 7.0% and the four-to-six-year-old parc to grow by 2.0% in 2015.
The car dealer’s trading update to the London Stock Exchange reports a 3.6% rise in aftersales gross profit, 2.9% increase in used vehicle gross profit and 9.9% jump in new vehicle gross profit.
Chief executive Trevor Finn said: “Our winning strategy of offering choice, value, service and convenience is attractive to customers and differentiates us from our competitors.
“In February we launched the UK’s first “click and collect” service, which has been a success with customers and alongside our other initiatives, has helped used vehicle revenue to increase by over 8 per cent which has outperformed the market.
“We remain encouraged by our aftersales and new vehicle department results as markets remain favourable. The performance of the group is in line with expectations for the full year.”
Pendragon’s debt to underlying EBITDA ratio remained below its target range of 1.0 to 1.5, and the car dealer said it expects to remain around the lower end of this range.
Glasgow-based finance broker First Vehicle Leasing has adopted the Net Promoter Score (NPS) management tool to gauge the loyalty of its customers.
NPS is based on the direct question: ‘How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?’ The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale.
Promoters are those who respond with a score of 9 or 10 and are considered loyal enthusiasts. Detractors are those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 – unhappy customers – whilst scores of 7 and 8 are passives who will count towards the total number of respondents, but not directly affect the formula.
Graham McCarthy at First Vehicle Leasing, said: “NPS takes account of the emotional experience of customers’ leasing a car. It is all too easy for leasing companies to forget that our customers are part of the business and our aim is to use NPS as a means to focus on improving our customer service.
“We aim to do that by turning passive customers into promoters and detractors into passive customers. I’m convinced that NPS is the key to our future growth.”
UK Fuels is advising drivers not to rely on official mpg figures, after a report by Which? suggested manufacturers are misleading consumers.
The report found just three of the 200 models it tested across 2013 and 2014 reached the official MPG figure stated in information supplied by the manufacturers, with cars falling short by an average of 13 per cent.
UK Fuels chief executive Bill Holmes said: “This report has proved that we can’t rely on the official consumption figures for vehicles in our fleets. Businesses need to take charge of monitoring fuel efficiency for themselves and make sure drivers are operating as efficiently as possible.”
A product recently launched by UK Fuels, Kinesis, integrates telematics and fuel card management data for customers. Channelling telematics data on driver and vehicle performance alongside fuel card usage information, Kinesis provides fleet owners and managers with some of the most accurate MPG reporting available on the market.
Holmes added: “Kinesis has been designed and developed to provide a cost-effective and streamlined system that lets fleets accurately measure fuel use and identify areas of inefficiency. “
Kinesis’ telematics data works through UK Fuels’ existing online account management tool, Velocity, and updates alongside fuel card data in real time so customers can log in and view up to the minute fleet activity from one central platform.
He added: “Kinesis perfectly complements our existing fuel card offering and adds another tool to help customers manage their fleets more effectively no matter how many vehicles they operate.”
BCA has announced it will hold its largest ever light commercial vehicle sale on Thursday 14 May with over 600 vehicles being put on the auction block.
The vehicles will be sold through three auction halls, while every van will be offered to online buyers, too.
A BCA spokesman told BusinessCar the sale will mainly comprise panel vans. The remarketing giant’s previous record sale was 500 vans.
The event will also mark the launch sale at the firm’s Blackbushe hall for Arval which is offering a range of three-to-four year old ex-contract hire vans in a fortnightly sale section. Stock will also come from the likes of Alphabet, BT Fleet and Lex Autolease.
“With this record-breaking entry of commercial vehicles at BCA Blackbushe on 14 May, BCA is setting new standards for the light commercial sector,” said Duncan Ward, BCA’s head of commercial vehicles.
Ford is to deliver 189 new Transit Custom vans to gas distribution company SGN. The vans will be used by engineers as emergency response vehicles.
SGN manages a gas distribution network to 5.8 million homes and businesses across the UK.
SGN currently operates 400 vans across Scotland and southern England. The firm chose the Custom because it features a load-through bulkhead, which allows floor-level carrying of three-metre long gas pipes.
“This eliminates the need for our engineers to load heavy copper piping at higher than head height, so there is reduced potential for an accident,” said Paul Davies, SGN fleet manager. “These vans are on the go 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so they have not only to be economical, reliable and spacious but also to provide a good working environment for operators. They have to be right for our drivers, and the Ford Transit Custom certainly meets their requirements.”
SGN’s Transits are short wheelbase, high roofed models powered by Ford’s 100hp 2.2-litre diesel engine.
The vehicles feature a bespoke stainless steel racking system designed by conversion firm Tevo as well as safety steps, additional lighting, load area heating and safe storage areas.
Axalta Coating Systems one of the leading global suppliers of liquid and powder coatings, announced its financial results for the first quarter, ended 31 March 2015.
Key First Quarter 2015 Highlights:
• Net sales of US$1.0bn, an increase of 5.2% excluding negative currency translation compared to the first quarter of 2014
• Adjusted EBITDA of US$182.0m with an Adjusted EBITDA margin of 18.4%
• An increase of 60 basis points compared to 17.8% in the first quarter of 2014
• Jiading, China expansion operational and ramping up with Light Vehicle volumes
• Successful completion by Carlyle of the sale of 66 million shares in two transactions (20 million via private placement to Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.), increasing Axalta’s free float to approximately 55% of total market capitalisation
‘We have started 2015 with a solid quarter that met our net sales and exceeded our Adjusted EBITDA expectations, in spite of significant currency headwinds on a sequential and year-over-year basis. The global automotive refinish markets remain stable and supportive, while growing global new vehicle production has offered us opportunities to expand our business rapidly in emerging economies. We remain focused on transforming Axalta into a growth platform while making solid progress on our existing and new cost and productivity initiatives,’ said Charlie Shaver, Axalta’s chairman and chief executive officer. ‘With a fundamentally stable economic backdrop, we look forward to meeting our financial goals for 2015 with the help of proactive and managed cost reductions and in spite of our expectation for ongoing currency headwinds.’
Just seven weeks after owner Lee Hitch collected the keys to a disused business unit, the brand new Fix Auto Wrexham bodyshop has successfully completed its first full week of operation.
The site, which becomes the second bodyshop in Fix Auto Oswestry’s managing director Lee Hitch’s portfolio, joins recent new franchisees Fix Auto Blackpool & Fylde and Fix Auto Fix & Go Pontypridd in the Fix Auto network.
Lee and his team have transformed what was a bare and somewhat tired 5,000 sq ft unit in the heart of the Wrexham Industrial Estate – which is said to be the biggest of its kind in the UK – into a pristine, state-of-the-art, bodyshop, complete with a six-bay moveable spraybooth, five-bay work-ing area, and a welcoming customer services area.
The new site – which will be managed by Shane Price, a former VDA at Fix Auto Oswestry’s site in Llanymynech – will feature four technicians, two spray painters and a receptionist and has the immediate capabilities to repair a minimum of 30 vehicles a week.
Lee said, ‘To say we’re extremely pleased with what we have achieved is an understatement. Yes, there have been testing times along the way, but in reality it is everything we have planned for, and more.
‘Our original site has evolved over its 40 years of operation, and by comparison Fix Auto Wrexham has been created almost overnight. While the actual development work has been achieved really quickly, the new centre has long been at the planning stage. We had a blueprint of what we needed in order to achieve our goals and, standing here, with the work now flowing through, I be-lieve we have succeeded.’
Richard Edwards, Bodyshop director, who has been instrumental in the new site’s development, said, ‘Thanks to the design and layout of the bodyshop, coupled with the very latest systems we have brought in, Fix Auto Wrexham will have operating capabilities three times that of a more traditional bodyshop. It really is a major leap forward for the entire business.’