Fleet News

Rover denies stockpile of 40,000 used cars

ROVER has strenuously denied rumours that it has stockpiled as many as 40,000 used cars until prices in the second-hand market improve. Industry sources have suggested that Rover withdrew the cars to avoid selling them in the company's last financial year.

But this week managing director Jim MacDonald told Fleet NewsNet: 'I can state categorically we don't have anything like 40,000 cars stockpiled.' He admitted there was a supply of used cars in stock, but he refused to divulge numbers.

In December, Rover's former chairman Walter Hasselkus blamed the manufacturer's poor performance partly on the ultra-competitiveness of the UK fleet market, where he said some car makers were offering discounts of 40-50%. Rover has been unable to compete with such cost-cutting, but has been involved in a number of buy-back deals to protect the marque's residual values, only for the bottom to fall out of the nearly-new car market.

Confirmation that Rover is having trouble in selling 'used' product came in the financial results of dealer group Lookers which said its Rover outlets had: 'endured a particularly difficult year, with too much stock chasing too few customers'. The Rover 400 had a tough 1998, despite a record UK fleet market, seeing its year-on-year fleet sales fall 12.5% to 33,828, but the manufacturer denied it was about to kick-start demand by realigning the car.

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