“Both conversion rates and price achieved continue to improve and we are regularly seeing 80% conversions across all stock with many branded corporate sections recording 100% conversions.
“As a case in point, the weekly Blackbushe LCV sale is the biggest in the country, offering up to 450 vans and sales are converting at 80% plus across the board, with specialist sections such as Lex Vehicle Leasing selling every van on offer.
“In fact Blackbushe has introduced an additional monthly sale on a Monday featuring stock from the Royal Mail and Peugeot Contract Hire. This sale is providing a valuable alternative selling platform and is attracting large crowds of buyers.
“Vendors remain sensible and realistic and we are working closely with our remarketing partners to maximise the advantages of the market – you have to say every bid is a good bid in the current market!
“LCV sales hit the ground running in January and just kept going from strength to strength throughout the first quarter of 2006. March was particularly bullish – across the board, everything seemed to step up a gear from late plate vans to older high mileage examples.
“As an indicator of demand, the car-sized van sector has plenty of supply yet prices continue to firm. BCA is handling more Berlingos, Combos, Partners and Connects than we have seen in previous years, yet price performance is often exceptional.
Demand is leading the market and vendors are seeing the returns. Specification and condition remain important – a side loading door is vital – and colour can have a significant effect. An attractive factory finish such as silver can generate a premium of up to 15% in the auction hall.
“Some commentators were concerned that prices would fall in the 4x4 double cab sector, but prices have been resurgent at BCA – even with new models from the manufacturers just around the corner.
“While talk in the new market has been about the Benefit in Kind issue, the simple fact is used buyers rarely see that benefit anyway – they just want the best specified double cab they can get. With this in mind, the basic models with steel wheels, manual windows, no aircon and in a solid colour need to be valued a little more keenly to attract the buyers!
“While activity in the auction halls has been uniformly good all year, there are some models that are guaranteed to pack the halls when they are offered. Any new models such as the Mercedes-Benz Vito, VW Transporter and Caddy are very much the flavour of the moment and price performance can be exceptional. So is there any bad news at all? Very high-mileage remains a turn-off for buyers, but if the condition is good buyers will cherry-pick the best examples and pay accordingly.”