But the firm's customer affairs director Tom Madden insists that the key to developing a successful web-based sales business is to build a service around a strong network of physical auction sites. He said: 'Our internet sales are based on a sound, well tried and tested system. This service is not based on spin, it is based on reality, because customers want to know how much return they will get for their vehicles. The service we deliver is all based on turning customers' cars into cash as quickly as possible.'
However, in the UK, where the firm has 23 auction sites, it is not planning further openings in the next year; instead it is concentrating on a multi-million pound refurbishment programme. It also has 14 centres throughout Europe, covering nine countries and in the UK, had just over 5,400 sales last year, giving it a turnover of approximately £2 billion.
The key to ensuring high service levels are maintained for customers is to offer the convenience of internet sales, but also provide physical auctions that provide the opportunity to touch and feel the cars, says Madden. The internet has a vital part to play as a search and information tool, along with providing a new disposal route, but Madden also expects demand through the physical auction network to increase.