The Gavel - December 2023
Wholesale market opinion from our resident car and LCV auction experts, Kevin Blincowe and Stuart Peak.
Kevin Blincowe - cars
As I sit down to write my last update of the year, it almost feels wrong that 2023 is ending. This year has flown by, and for all the right reasons, with my working weeks packed with sales, customer visits, staff meetings, awards ceremonies and everything in between!
Before we get into the summary of the year, I would first like to say goodbye to a very dear friend ahead of his retirement. That’s my former manager and mentor, Andy “The Gaffer” Conde. It goes without saying that he is a legend of the auction world and leaves a big hole in our business that will never be filled. As a man, Andy has great integrity and huge passion; he inspired me and many others to do our best while on the rostrum. His professionalism and approach to relationship management meant that his “little black book” of contacts became rammed over the years. He created the team of auctioneers at Manheim and lit the fire underneath us to be “bid makers”, not “bid takers”, a motto to which every one of the team live to this day.
I will miss the countless stories about the “good old days” – he always had a funny anecdote to turn dark moments into happy ones and his general all-round positivity and can-do attitude will be hard to replace. As auctioneers we will carry on Andy’s legacy of putting smiles on faces and pounds in pockets for years to come and I would like to wish Andy a very happy retirement. I will miss you gaffer, you lived the values of Cox Automotive by always doing the right thing and you are as open, honest and passionate a man as I could have hoped to grow with over the years. Thank you.
Now, on to the not-so-soppy stuff! If you look at what this job has dealt with over the past couple of years, 2023 finally felt like a return to what I would call ‘normality’. Used vehicles became depreciating assets again, we saw seasonal trends that felt familiar and our hybrid sales programme saw growing physical attendances as popularity grew.
If we look at some of the wins and successes that we have had this year it is an impressive list; Riverside, Available Car (exclusive contract), Harwoods, Oodle Finance, VWFS, Motability, Wessex and more. We saw our national non-runner sale grow to new heights alongside our impressive prestige, performance and EV sale which has included some mouth-watering cars on offer from Ferraris to McLarens.
My team’s focus this year has been on continuous improvement, so we all went through an auctioneer assessment to ensure that we are providing our vendors and buyers with the very best rostrum service as well as introducing a thorough training course and assessment for our Simulcast clerks who are an integral part of the sales. With this we are well set to ensure that our halls and rostrums are the best place to sell cars physically or online in 2024.
The market has had its ups and downs this year; the book drop has hit many makes and models hard in recent months, but it was a much-needed alignment after the huge increases seen since Covid. Cars are starting to look like good value again and if the economic outlook improves, we will see more confidence in the retail space and dealers will be looking to fill forecourts again to get the wheels turning.
Looking ahead to 2024, I expect to see the traditional new year bounce and I am looking forward to getting our action-packed sales programme going again after a well-earned rest. As always, a huge thank you to all our buyers and vendors. I wish you very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Stuart Peak - LCVs
Can you believe it? Just two weeks remain until Christmas, so there feels no better time to reflect on another very successful year of LCV auctions at Manheim.
Let’s cast our thoughts to the start of the year where it’s safe to say the market was very buoyant and buyers were competing hard to own stock. As we navigated through Q2 and into the early part of the summer, seasonality started to creep in and demand started to reduce. Then, as we came out of summer and entered in to Q4, we saw a big return in demand and some serious metal has been shifted since.
I’ve been impressed by how strong demand has been throughout November and in to the first week of December. All in all, I would say that 2023 has seen the return of a ‘normal’ LCV marketplace, with perhaps stronger demand at the back end of the year than what we would expect to see – but that’s certainly not a bad thing!
Over the past few weeks, it’s become apparent that buyers are very keen to get stocked up ready for January. In my opinion, this bodes well for a strong start to the new year.
The highlight of 2023 has to be opening up all of our LCV sales to physical buyers and embedding our hybrid auction approach at all locations. There’s nothing quite like the feel of an auction in-person and our buyers have certainly responded positively. In fact, our hybrid approach has led to a 28% growth in volumes sold year-on-year.
Diving into our data in detail tells an interesting story of how the year played out, with week 20 of the year marking a turning point for arrivals to our sites. Simply put, over the past 29 weeks since then we have handled over 7,500 more vans than we did throughout weeks 20-49 in 2022 (a 26% increase). The reason for being so specific here is that it truly gives you an idea of exactly when the new vehicle supply challenges started to ease, and de-fleets began to kick into gear.
August was our strongest month for volumes sold, which may come as some surprise seeing as that is slap bang in the middle of the summer holiday period. This really did set the trend for the second half of the year, and safe to say we are truly ending 2023 with a bang.
Talking of which, I was truly honoured to represent Cox Automotive this week at the WhatVan? Awards alongside Nikki Jones, and I am delighted to report that for the third year running, Manheim was announced as Remarketing Company of the Year. With our hybrid auction approach and collaborative approach to work across Cox Automotive, I truly believe that we are the market leaders when it comes to vehicle auctions in the UK, and this award echoes that sentiment. A massive thank you from team CV for all of the support this year and we wish you all a very merry Christmas. Roll on 2024, we are predicting another big year!