James Leese

It barely seems a fortnight since I last put finger to keyboard to draft our customer update, but a check in my diary reveals since then the summer holidays have been and gone. Such is the pace of change this year. I hope those of you who wanted to get away were able to take some time out in August to be with your families and catch your breath.

With businesses now operating as close to usual as they can, and with the immediate operational challenges now overcome, we’ve been really pleased to have the opportunity to spend time with a significant proportion of our customers in recent weeks. Naturally this has been via Teams and Zoom calls rather than the face to face meetings we’d love to be having, but it’s nevertheless been good to update one another on our respective restart activities and plans for the closing months of the year.

It’s been particularly encouraging to find that despite the profound challenges Covid-19 has presented us all, in our work and in our personal lives, there’s an air of positivity and determination in almost all quarters of our sector, and a desire to collaborate to achieve the best outcome we can. As a business that prides itself on establishing and nurturing long standing partnerships, this is music to our ears. So much more can be achieved when we work together.

Working together has been a particularly strong theme within Cox Automotive throughout this crisis. I remain proud of how individuals and teams have come together for each other and our customers over the last few months.

It’s their hard work and resolve that’s enabled us to return to full operational capacity in almost every respect.

Our auction programme is currently breaking records in terms of buyers attending despite them remaining online-only. With government guidelines still advising against gatherings and local lockdowns happening across the country in increasing numbers, the danger of Covid-19 remains very real and it remains our responsibility to continue to do the right thing by our team members and customers.

To further help buyers, we’ve extended our Accelerate support programme – you can find all the details here.

(For a fascinating insight behind the scenes our auction activities by the way, do watch this interview with our head auctioneer, Andy Conde, part of our new Fuel/talk series.)

Dealer Auction – our joint venture with Auto Trader – has continued to experience similar demand over the summer months as the scramble for used vehicle stock remained. NextGear Capital is also reporting strong activity and an appetite from dealers to stock up their forecourts.

Meanwhile, it’s now six months since our acquisition of C Walton Ltd and the integration of that business with our Manheim Vehicle Services business is on plan despite the disruption and customers are already benefiting from our extended proposition. Our vehicle solutions proposition continues to play an increasingly important role for our fleet and OEM customers as they catch up on the aftermath of the lockdown and adjust their strategies to cater for changing consumer requirements.

Within our retail group, the summer months have seen several key initiatives come to fruition, including the launch of eVA Valuations & Appraisals, a new business built on the very solid foundations of our former Manheim Valuations and Appraisals business. You can find out more via this interview with eVA’s MD, Paul Humphreys and watch this space for more news on this important venture in the coming weeks. And the increased focus on used vehicles has seen our Movex colleagues across Europe fully engaged too, building out technology solutions that generate leads and sell vehicles faster.

Finally, it’s also worth acknowledging the work our teams have been doing for their communities and each other too. At the time of writing, we’ve scores of team members clocking up over 10,000 steps a day as part of our ‘Steptember’ challenge, raising funds for Ben while over 40 colleagues have now completed their training to become Mental Health First Aiders.

As I said in my last update, while things are hopefully looking up for our industry, there’s clearly a long road ahead, but it’s one we’ll face together. If we can help you, please do talk to us.

Stay safe and well.