BCA Europe, Europe's largest auction and remarketing group, is to double its continental sites over the next five years.
It has 37 auction centres across Europe and over the next three to five years BCA Europe expects to add a further 'two or three' sites to its 23-strong UK network of auction centres as well as redeveloping some of its existing sites.
Meanwhile, on mainland Europe, BCA Europe plans to expand from its 14 auction centres in nine countries - that figure will be achieved when it opens in Austria later this year - to 28 by the end of 2006.
That expansion will see BCA Europe increase its presence in France and Germany - it also operates in Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Spain and Portugal - and open auction centres in other countries including Italy and former Eastern European nations.
There are presently three centres in Germany and new sites are likely to be opened serving Hanover and Frankfurt.
BCA Europe will open in Austria in the autumn and chairman and chief executive Tom Gibson said: 'Austria will provide the springboard for our move into Eastern Europe.' With the exception of Denmark, where there was already an auction industry, the company has transformed the continent from an 'auction greenfield'.
As the company developed in Holland, Denmark and Belgium before moving into Germany, France, Scandinavia and latterly Spain, Gibson argues: 'We have grown and developed our own infrastructure without taking our eye off the UK.
'I have seen some terrible disasters in Europe over the last 40 years where companies have gone marching into Europe and the whole move has been disastrous. I was determined that would not happen to BCA Europe.
'We have had time to develop our network carefully; we knew it would take time and it is taking time. We have gone about it carefully and cautiously.
'Opening the centres is like building blocks. The network is being carefully developed - one move at a time - and the profitable and established locations have helped us to sustain the losses of new locations.'
Gibson extends UK approach to Europe As BCA Europe's network expands, chairman and chief executive Tom Gibson says the company's prime job is to convince franchised dealers across the continent to use auction houses to move their used cars in an environment in which that culture has not previously existed.
Historically major used car wholesalers have been the traditional 'middle man' in moving used cars and, says Gibson: 'Vehicles have been moved slowly and expensively and fleets have had difficulty in moving vehicles.'
As the company expands in Europe so it is establishing a pan-European customer base with Gibson saying: 'European customers are becoming UK customers and UK customers have become European customers.
'With a 55-year history in the UK the company has taken a 15% share in the British used car market so, argues Gibson: 'There is plenty of business to be had both in the UK and across Europe.'
He added: 'We are promoting a professional image and first class services. We are setting standards in the industry which others will have to follow. We are taking the services we offer in the UK and rolling them out across Europe.'
Established UK auction centre services such as Smart Prepared are being rolled out across European auction sites along with e-commerce services with Gibson saying: 'We intend to replicate everything we do in the UK in mainland Europe.' (September 2001)