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The Gavel - May 2024

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Wholesale market opinion from our resident car, LCV and HGV auction experts, Kevin Blincowe, Stuart Peak and Chris Mynott.

Kevin Blincowe - cars

Kevin Blincowe on Manheim Rostrum

We began Q2 with much excitement, it’s fair to say. As mentioned in my previous update, Q1 was a very strong start to the year and we were keen to keep that momentum going.  

April saw good levels of volume from both our fleet and leasing customers, as well as our dealer customers still dealing with an influx of volume from the March plate change. So, there have been plenty of units in our lanes and some big sales to get our teeth into.  

Starting in Colchester, we had our Motability mega sale. Over 300 units were available, and the event went down very well with our buyers—a superb result for such an important customer.  

Colchester is also adding a Friday sale to the calendar due to sizeable arrivals from several of our fleet and manufacturer vendors. Birmingham has added a third sale to the programme there – a return of the Monday sales programme. 

There have certainly been lots of good news stories as we headed into the start of Q2. In terms of the lanes, there have been a good number of physical buyers. The half-term school holidays always have an impact as it’s when people tend to take a break. Still, our physical events always pull in a crowd, and it’s a great opportunity for buyers to get away from the office, see their peers, speak to us and gauge how the market is going.  

Several publications have recently praised the used car market's prospects for 2024. Statistics show a significant improvement over previous years, and predictions suggest that the year will see significant growth. 

Valuations play a part in this and it is good to see that CAP reductions remain steady. That always gives the market good confidence after a long period of turbulent values and re-alignment.   As we approach the summer months, convertible values have started to rise, with premiums being paid for them. As always, a general rule of thumb is that very good values are achieved on cars that need little to no prep.  

The pedigree of a car is now more important than ever, and our buyers have a laser-sharp focus on units with the right documentation, not too many owners, main dealer history, no outstanding recalls, etc. If the vehicle ticks all these boxes, then it commands a premium and always will.  

As always, when there is a softening of demand, the less-than-perfect units need to be bang on the money in terms of valuations. And at this time of year, we do a lot of work around revaluations for our customers, to give them an idea of a realistic value which we think these units can achieve. What's needed at that point is an understanding from our vendors that the vehicle may achieve below their expectations in terms of value. However, they trust us because at the heart of what we are trying to do is maximise a vehicle's potential value.  

As we head toward June, I expect the bank holidays to impact attendance again as people make the most of the downtime available. We still have plenty to offer as we close in on the end of H1 and look toward the back nine of the year.  

As always, my team of auctioneers has the experience and desire to make the most of the market, seize the momentum and drive the auctions forward in a positive way for all.

Stuart Peak - LCVs

Stuart Peak on Manheim rostrum

Looking at how the market is performing so far in May; it is safe to say that we are witnessing softer trading conditions that we so often see at this time of year.  

After a truly frantic and record-breaking start to 2024, this was to be expected. First-time conversions have reduced so far in May by 7%, and the average selling price has dipped by just over £500. With retail activity reported as a little flat and a continued supply of LCVs entering our sites, it’s no wonder that buyers are perhaps bidding cautiously.  

I expect this trend to persist over the next few weeks. In essence, we are seeing a levelling out of market conditions after the frantic and incredibly buoyant start to the year. Q2 tends to be quite a disrupted market, especially with the half-term breaks, bank holidays and warmer weather which tend to hamper retail activity. 

Buyer numbers remain healthy though and there’s interest in every sale. We have seen so many large panel vans entering the market as we have done so far in 2024. A large proportion of these have been worked hard. We are still seeing strong money being paid for the cleaner, lower mileage examples across all makes, as professional buyers compete to turn stock as quickly as they can. 

There is lots to be excited about in the CV world at Cox Automotive over the coming months, with some exciting products launching soon and NAMA LCV grading just around the corner too.   In addition, numerous new models are entering the CV arena this year, and with BEV ranges also increasing on many new models, 2024 is certainly set to be a year that helps shape the CV ecosystem. 

Preparation is also well underway for the annual Novuna offsite sale at Trowbridge on Friday 5th July. This year's event is set to be the largest ever, with 200 prime LCVs up for grabs on the day. Check our social media channels for video content highlighting stock over the coming weeks. There may even be another blooper video released after the event. On the day, we shall be raising money for Shelter, with £50 from the sale of each vehicle being donated, a very worthy cause I am sure you’ll agree.

Chris Mynott - Truck and Plant

Stuart Peak on Manheim rostrum

This year has gone like a flash thus far and has been perhaps the busiest in memory for Manheim Industrial and Team HGV. And it’s certainly been a very successful year so far to boot.  

The inbound volumes of trucks, trailers, and plant equipment have sometimes seemed relentless. Our HGV centre at Bruntingthorpe has been bursting at the seams with stock and the hub centres across the country are jam-packed too. 

We switched to weekly sales back in Q3 last year, and what a great decision that proved to be—we’ve seen sales volumes increase by as much as 75%, and our vendors and buyers have lapped up the additional auction dates to buy and sell. 

The onset of the Manheim Industrial project has seen us climb to new levels. Our buyer numbers are consistently above 200 for each auction and our first-time conversion rates sit comfortably at around the 70% mark. We have continued to sign new vendor deals with DHL, Lombard and Wincanton to name but a few. Our average vehicle sales price sits at just under the £13,000 mark and our days to sell currently lies at 10.2. So much positivity then – it looks like we’re set for another record-breaking year. 

And yet this all sits atop a HGV market that is very flat at present. Huge volumes of stock are in the marketplace, and the industry frequently reports businesses failing, rates being cut and generally a rather negative outlook. The current financial situation that many face, with higher interest rates and a large portion of uncertainty in many areas is making for a market that’s the toughest I’ve seen for many a year. Buyers have been far more selective and vendors are having to adjust their expectations almost weekly if they’re to keep the wheels turning.  

Run-of-the-mill products such as Tractor units, boxes, and trailers, which saw huge new supply price increases during the COVID period, are now suffering as they have become the most plentiful in used supply that we’ve seen for years. Values have dropped consistently over the past few months, although like with a lot of kit, the fall in values has stopped now for the most part. They have found a new level and hopefully will soon start to go the other way. 

So, we continue to do all we can to keep a positive spin on things. Communication and insight are key as we strive to keep the buyers bidding and the vendors selling—there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re heading straight for it! 

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