Today, it’s the turn of new Chairman, Stephen Wood of Ancaster Group, who took time to talk about his new role and the challenges facing the network.
How long have you been a Nissan dealer?
I’ve worked for Ancaster for 20 years this year and we’ve been with Nissan throughout.
How long have you been involved with the NDA ?
I’ve been on the NDA for the last couple of years supporting Mike [Michael Finn, outgoing Chairman] and the other NDA members.
How have you found your time on the NDA so far?
It’s been very positive. You get the chance to speak to dealers from all parts of the country and discover how they’re finding business. You also get to talk to the manufacturer and learn to understand the business challenges from their perspective.
In time you come to understand the constraints the manufacturer has and can help them understand the constraints that we have as dealers. Then, hopefully, you can be a part of the decision-making process on moving the business forwards.
What issues have you been involved with since joining the NDA?
I’ve been on the committee since 2010 and during this time the business has continued to change significantly with growing market share and new programme proposals. The NDA has been able to help Nissan to understand the problems and challenges that have faced dealers during this time through discussion and to work on growing the gross profit potential while trying to control the costs incurred by dealers.
You’ve now been appointed Chairman. Is that something you’re excited about?
Yes, very much so. I’m really looking forward to carrying on the great work that Mike’s done over the last four years.
In that period it’s helped that there’s been a good working relationship with Nissan and I’m hoping we can continue to work very closely together to help grow the business and grow the profitability of the dealers.
Moving forward, what are the big challenges facing you as Chairman?
I think we’re still going through very tough economic times in the UK and Europe and we’ve got to make sure the profitability of the dealers can be maintained and grow.
The brand is in a fantastic place and continuing to grow and we need to ensure the profitability of the dealers grows in line with that despite all the pressures that are coming.
Do you think the NDA can have an impact on that?
I think Nissan recognise the NDA as a very key part of their understanding of what’s happening in the UK with their network. We have a great group of dealers on the NDA who have an enormous amount of experience with various sizes of business from single dealers up to multi franchise groups.
It is important that we can encourage dealers to communicate with the NDA members.
We can then put all of their comments together and go to the Nissan and explain what’s concerning to the dealers right now and in the future and hopefully formulate a constructive solutions to any problems.
Do you have a message for your fellow dealers?
Yes. Please be aware of who your local NDA members are and please understand that we are there to help you and support you.
If you have any concerns pick up the phone to your NDA member or to me and hopefully we can understand what those issues are and hopefully help in resolving them.
But from a dealer perspective, there’s reason to be optimistic?
Very much so. The brand’s in a fantastic position at the moment with growing market share and retail market share, which is key to dealers. This in turn improves the PARC and therefore the service and aftersales opportunities.
And we can see there’s some fantastic new product coming and, despite the economic climate we’re in, there are lots of things to look forward to.