BCA Seville, the latest addition to the growing continental network of auction giant BCA Europe, marked its official opening in style last month as it became the firm’s second site in Spain.
Behind the scenes, it is a recognisable member of the same BCA family that is growing at a fast pace in Europe, although each site has its own distinct regional ambience.
At BCA Seville, as with its sister location in Madrid, buyers and sellers still use pesetas rather than euros when bidding, creating mouth-watering prices running into millions for many models, even though they are only fetching about £4,500. It’s a quirk that bidders still work in pesetas – in the fast-moving auction, converting mentally to euros is too slow. Cars are still bought in euros, though.
BCA Europe now has 18 locations in 10 countries on the continent, backed by a further 22 in the UK, marketing 1.35 million vehicles year, giving it an estimated turnover of more than £3 billion, making it Europe’s largest remarketing company.
The opening of Seville is just one multi-million pound investment in a Europe-wide plan for expansion, predominantly through building sales in countries where it is currently represented, but also by expansion into new territories.
The potential and appetite for these services differs according to each market.
In the UK, where 22 sites seem packed into a relatively small island, demand continues to grow, prompting a massive investment in refurbishing centres or building replacement ones, such as the BCA Bedford supersite, which plans to open its doors officially on September 28.
Tom Madden, BCA customer affairs director, said: ‘Buyers will always want to touch and feel cars and be certain of what they are buying.
‘We have invested heavily in online remarketing as well with live online and services such as the Fleet News Award-winning BCA Auction View, which dealers log into every morning like the stock exchange, but the physical auction network is essential.’
The size of the expansion at BCA Bedford shows just how important physical auctions will remain in the future.
The current site is two acres, but the new site will cover 25 acres.
In Europe, the network has grown from one location and 25 employees in 1989 to 18 locations in 10 countries other than the UK with 500 employees today.
As well as the 20-acre E5m site in Seville, complementing the 13-acre site in Madrid, BCA has also launched operations in Sweden, which officially open on May 1, with the opening of two logistics centres in partnership with LeasePlan.
Vehicles are collected from LeasePlan and delivered to the two logistics centres on the east and west coast, where they are prepared for resale, including refurbishment, before being remarketed on the LeasePlan CarNext Direct website, operated by BCA.
Paul Bradbury, managing director of BCA’s mainland Europe operations, said: ‘We offer the full range of services in every country in which we operate. In the past 15 years, we have built a network across the EU.
‘You can see the nature and scale of our infrastructure. In the Netherlands, we are in the process of doubling the size of our site to 16 acres.
‘In Germany, we expanded last year with the opening of operations in Frankfurt, while our operations in Austria provide a link to Eastern European buyers and sellers.
‘In every case there is more to this than just the auction hall. We invest to understand the local buyer base in each country and offer the full range of services.’
Although Italy, Poland and Hungary are next on the company’s radar for potential expansion, it also sees immense opportunities from winning new customers in countries where it is already based. This could include driving more business through its current network, or opening new sites in different parts of each country.
As the UK shows, with enough support from buyers, a large number of sites could be opened in any country.
Bradbury added: ‘There is room in every country to increase substantially what we do at the moment, but clearly there are gaps.
‘Italy is the largest country where we have no presence at the moment, along with Eastern Europe. But in both cases, sellers from those countries attend our auctions elsewhere and so do buyers.’
Madden added: ‘We have been operating in the UK for more than 50 years and sell more than one million cars wholesale. In Europe, we are just scratching the surface.’
Country No of centres