UK dealers figure highly in the top European listings for non-manufacturer owned groups, according to automotive research and consultancy the ICDP.
ICDP’s 2018 listing of independent franchised dealer groups sees some very familiar UK companies featured although it was a Swiss dealer group which took the number one slot.
The 2018 Top 50 ranking, which places groups in order by turnover and is based on 2017 figures, saw Emil Frey move from its previous fifth position to top of the table.
Despite the devaluation of the pound – sterling is converted to euros to enable comparisons, as a result of Brexit, the value of UK groups have taken a hit, although, conversely, this is also making them of interest to foreign investors, UK groups still perform well.
In the top 10, five are UK dealer groups with Pendragon the best ranking at number three. UK dealer groups make up almost a third of the top 50 with 15 groups represented. German groups took 10 slots whilst French dealers accounted for five of the top 50 and the Dutch took four positions.
However, the top 50 account for little more than 10% of all new car sales in Europe and their used car sales outperform new by more than double with European groups often looking to the UK for inspiration, despite the fact a Swiss group sits at the top of the table, according to ICDP’s managing director Steve Young.
According to the data, sales of used cars in 2017 leapt by 22% among the 10 biggest European dealers widening the gap between its used and new car sales even more. For example, the UK’s top ranking group Pendragon opened seven used car dealerships in 2017. The same year, US group Penske, which featured at number two in the 2018 table, acquired used car group CarShop’s five UK sites, also another indication of the weak pound.
The influence of manufacturers in retailing continues to make itself felt with notable operations including VW Group's Porsche Holding Salzburg with 453, PSA Group own 277 and Renault with 132. Ford operates 50 sites under its TrustFord brand here in the UK although that figure is down slightly compared to 2016 when it owned 55.
However, whilst Young points to its evidence suggesting closer relationships between manufacturers and customers, he does not envisage moves by OEMs towards a Tesla-style model. The brand has turned its back on the traditional franchised dealer network choosing to run its own stores alongside a strong digital presence which includes online ordering.
For 2019, the icdp services has extended its reach to identify the top dealer groups worldwide with rankings listed according to automotive operations revenue only and will be publishing its top 100 based on 2018 figures.