Fleet News

Premier pushes ahead with expansion

NOT content with tripling the size of its Leeds auction site, vehicle remarketing group Premier Motorauctions is planning a new equally large site at an unnamed location.

With its £3.5 million investment at Leeds now offering more than 2,000 vehicles a week for sale and turning over more than £150 million, the group's managing director Keith Elliott is focusing on the new venture.

He said: 'Our main priority for 2004 is to look for a new site and to get it up and running. It is going to be as big as our Leeds venture. We are busy preparing for this and will be training staff to work at the new site.'

The company was formed in 1996 and last year achieved a turnover of £159 million, up from £135 million in 2002. It expects to increase turnover by 17.5% this year. More space was desperately needed and in September 2002, the company expanded its Leeds site from six acres to 15 acres.

Elliott said the move changed the company completely.

'We were bursting at the seams and it was causing problems for clients as there was nowhere to put the cars,' he said. 'We can now offer a more bespoke service and are currently completing five sales a week.'

The company also hosts three evening sales a week, a move that serves to attract private buyers, which can help maximise fleet residual values.

On future developments for the company, Elliott said: 'The Leeds site is now big enough, the capacity has been filled quickly and we are looking at various other opportunities. In 2004 we will be having seven sales, which is up on last year.

'We have an ongoing training programme for all our staff. Every year we look at employees' positions and often have a reshuffle. It helps keep things fresh.'

All Premier Motorauctions staff undergo an induction programme on their appointment to assess their training and development needs.

The company employs an external training consultant to coach staff on IT. All account managers and sales assistants are given customer service training internally. One of the company's proudest moments was when it won the contract to become official auctioneer for DVLA personalised registrations.

Its first auction raised a massive £3.9 million for the Treasury and in April 2002, Premier's auction for the DVLA in Cardiff broke records – generating revenue of £4.1 million.

Elliott said: 'The DVLA contract has been better than expected. We took it as new registrations were coming in and we have done really well.'

In a competitive industry like auctions, major players are keen to open as many revenue channels as possible, such as selling used cars on the internet.

Asked about Premier Motorauctions' online offering, Elliott said: 'A stand-alone auction does not conduct much business online. Our website is mainly there to inform customers and it is useful for information. There will always be a limitation to online services.'

The company has, however, placed a major emphasis on the use of technology to make the buying and selling process effortless.

It introduced a new computer system to streamline transaction processing times and automated payments direct to clients' accounts in a bid to improve internal efficiencies.

By using a new payment system, sale proceeds arrive at client accounts quicker, which reduces any interest charges.

Elliott said: 'We introduced and designed the new computer system ourselves and it has improved efficiency. As soon as we get account notification, this is passed on, the car is booked in, it can have a CAP figure and data such as chassis number added to the system.'

The company recently increased the size of its transporter fleet, used to collect and deliver cars, and Elliott claims it to be the biggest transporter fleet at an auction. 'We now have 22 transporters and in the past month have taken delivery of eight new transporters. We own all the vehicles and don't contract them out, as we don't believe in relying on a third party, we want full control ourselves.

'Satellite tracking of transporters helps reduce collection costs for our fleet customers,' he added.

Maximising residual values for customers is obviously a key aim for auction companies.

Premier Motorauctions unveiled Premier Preparation in 2002, which it describes as 'the country's most advanced remarketing vehicle preparation centre'.

Specially imported from Germany, the system is capable of cleaning 50 cars an hour or up to one mile of cars a day.

It is also environmentally friendly – recycling 95% of the water it uses and using special synthetic materials to wash the car preventing scratching.

Soon afterwards, the company formed a new company called Dent Skill, which operates on-site and offers smart repairs.

Elliot said: 'Dent Skill, the company we launched for smart repairs, started with an initial quiet spell but has now really taken off.'

The future is bright for Premier Motorauctions and the company hopes to boost its fleet customer base throughout 2004. Opening a new site will only help the company achieve this aim.

Premier Motor Auctions fact file

  • Resources
    Location: Leeds, also planning a new site this year
    Years in business: eight
    Acreage: 15-acres, new site planned to be a similar size
    Services: vehicle remarketing, auction, smart repairs, vehicle preparation

  • Customers
    Vendor types: fleet operators, leasing companies, finance companies, franchised dealers
    Vehicles for sale: 2,000 every week
    Sales per week: seven

  • Financial
    Turnover: 2002 £135 million, 2003 £159 million

  • Transporter fleet
    Fleet of 22 transporters
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