What attracted you to the motor industry?
I was interested in motor vehicles from an early age and joined Nissan on the production line when I was 16. I knew a couple of guys who worked in car showrooms and saw it was a fast-paced environment with strong opportunities, so I made the switch to car sales when I was 21. That was almost 20 years ago and I’ve carried out most roles in sales, from salesman to business manager, sales manager, franchise manager, operations director and now, franchise director.
What were your initial thoughts when you heard Benfield was to be acquired by Lookers?
Nigel McMinn [managing director at Lookers PLC] was the former chief executive of Benfield and so I’d heard a lot of good things about Lookers PLC prior to the take over. Personally, I was excited because I knew the scale of the business would bring a lot of advantages. Both businesses were focused on employee engagement and customer satisfaction, too, so it was a very good fit.
The acquisition is still only six months old, but what impact has it made so far?
Because both companies had the same goals, the transition has seemed almost seamless. The scale of the business now has brought many opportunities, especially in terms of its superior buying power. Also, a number of former Benfield employees now carry out national roles – including myself.
Tell me about your new role.
As franchise director, I’m responsible for profitability and customer satisfaction levels for three of the group’s brands in mainland UK: Nissan, Renault and Hyundai. My previous role was more operational but now it is more strategic. I look to build and maintain relationships with the manufacturers and I’m always looking for new opportunities for Lookers PLC. There’s a lot of travel involved in my new job and a typical day starts at 8am and ends at 7pm – but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What will the new Lookers Nissan showroom in Newcastle offer customers?
The new Nissan showroom in Newcastle represents significant investment by the company and I believe it has everything a modern retail outlet should have. It offers a relaxed, yet welcoming environment that’s great for customers and colleagues.
Nissan is a brand that is very important to the North East. How does Lookers work with the manufacturer to build on this reputation?
Figures show that around 50,000 people in the region have jobs that are reliant on Nissan – many of these being in the supply chain. It’s massively important that the brand continues to excel. Lookers has shared goals with Nissan and we work closely with the Sunderland plant. We sponsor its sports and social club and get involved in some of the activities. Personally, Nissan is a brand that is very close to my heart, as I’ve been involved with it throughout my career.