Making money in a stormy

It’s getting tougher out there. While the SMMT reported March
sales up 0.5 per cent year on year, a better result than predicted
only a few weeks ago, the RMIF’s Louise Wallis, profiled on p13,
reports that the picture for dealers is tough, with manufacturers
squeezing margins and “ever more difficult trading conditions”.

The Bank of England’s April decision to cut interest rates to 5
per cent will undoubtedly help sustain car sales, but is it too
little, too late?

The motor retail sector is examined in detail in this month’s
cover story (p17), where Brian Rogerson delves into data company
Plimsoll’s exhaustive motor retailer statistics and paints a
picture of an industry where many players are balanced on a knife’s
edge. It won’t take much to push many dealers into the red – unless
they diversify, and keep one step ahead of the competition, that
is. Meanwhile, Peter Cooke reminds readers of his column that a
recession is not necessarily the end of the world, and that canny
dealers will take the chance to rid their operations of excess flab
– while protecting core functions.

Fleet providers must innovate in order to keep their heads above
water, too. With news that Lombard Vehicle Management is linking up
with Vauxhall to market contract hire offers to SMEs –
see Lessor scores three major deals – this is a
customer base that no lessor can neglect. Christophe Desplace,
director of LeasePlan subsidiary Network, outlines the best way to
win over leasing-wary SME customers in Selling the

The big news in motor finance this month is, of course, the
disappearance of GE Money from UK auto lending. The company, which
has had a sometimes fraught history in the sector, has thrown in
the towel – or perhaps we should say that it has passed the torch
to Santander Consumer Finance, which is to take over GE Money’s UK
cards and car finance units as part of a wider asset swap. We can
only hope that this particular piece of torch-passing encounters
fewer problems than the progress of the Olympic torch, which has
lit up headlines around the globe – few of them positive.
 With very best wishes for the month ahead.

Jo Tacon

Motor Finance Issue: 42 – April 08
Jo Tacon ,
Published for the web: April 23 08 9:34
Last Updated: April 24 08 10:43