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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire motor group is changing with the times - as they have done for more than a century

For more than a century the Warner family have been ready to adapt their business as new technology changes the world.

What started out in 1918 as two brothers fixing agricultural machinery near to the family farm in Twyning has adapted to become a £25million turnover business with more than 80 staff.

Just as Cecil and Harold Warner noticed a gap in the market and turned their expertise as agricultural labourers to fixing tractors, successive generations of the family have followed suit.

From running buses and charabancs across the county, to noticing the increase desire for private car ownership in the 1960s, the Warner family have been a step ahead of the change.

And now Marc Warner - the fifth generation of the family along with Mark Jones and current Managing Director of what is now the Warners Motor Group - are ready for the next big change.

Changes to the way we buy cars are already beginning to take hold, just in time for the way we fuel and run our cars to change for good.

"In 10 years' time we will have a completely different market," Mr Warner said.

"I have no doubt that electric vehicles will be the driving force of our business and it's our job to help the customer understand what this means for them, their businesses and the different options available."

"We will continue to adapt our business to insure we will still be here offering that great retail experience the the customer wants."

Warners currently operate two sites in Gloucestershire, on Eastern Avenue in Gloucester and Shannon Way in Tewkesbury.

There they stock new and used cars and vans from the PSA Group - selling, servicing and maintaining Peugeot and Citroen as well as Isuzu the Pick-up specialist brand.

In the next year that range will grow to include at least eight hybrid or full electric vehicles as the revolution and move away from the combustion engine gathers pace.

"It's an incredibly exciting year for us, we have the all-new Peugeot 208 electric which has just been launched," Mr Warner said.

"It's a fantastic car, the first in the Peugeot and PSA range, that will be closely followed this month by the all-new 2008.

Then in June, we have the LCV electric vehicles and then a range of SUV hybrids.

"There will be seven or eight electric and hybrid products launching this year, so that's quite a significant change.

"The electric and hybrid market is only going to get bigger and bigger and the confusion over whether to make the change will start to disappear.

"There is confusion over the range, the infrastructure surrounding electric and the cost of owning an electric car. We're in a point of crossover.

"There is so much unknown as we don't quite know where the future will take us. What we do know is there is already some fantastic products on the market that we can get excited about."

While the way cars are fuelled will change significantly, a marked difference in the way we decide to buy, and pay for, a new vehicle is already with us.

Mr Warner has already noticed a stark difference to the method of buying cars in the past decade and he believes that change is only going to become more pronounced in the future.

"It will be more about the experience, about having brand and product information rather than just selling someone a car and it's already changing.

"The main difference now, is that people know what they want before they come and see you, because of the internet.

"A decade ago, you would be guaranteed a full forecourt every weekend, now the shopping part is done online, our job is to provide professional advice and help the customer make the right decision."

"Car ownership was the norm. Or you borrowed money to buy your car. Now a lot of our products are finance, finance lease or PCP - purchase, contract purchase.

"It's like having a mobile phone contract, but instead of paying £100 on top of your monthly amount for the latest phone, you're paying a sum to get the latest car.

"We are looking at a future where you need the mobility of a car but don't necessarily need to own one. Traditional car ownership may not be the way of 2030. It's an interesting future."

And that's where the family firm believe they have got a competitive advantage.

Because the family ethos is still core to the company, Mr Warner believes the level of personal service that comes with it marks them out from the crowd.

"I think the name and local reputation of our business is of great significance," he said.

"It's a key difference between us and some of the larger national dealer groups in the region.

"It is a family business to us still. All of our staff are names, not numbers, and we want that mantra to come across to customers as well. That's our point of difference.

"We use being smaller than our competitors to our advantage.

"Our job is to reassure our customers that what they are getting is right for them.

"Our sales process is down to that individual sales person to qualify and understand from each customer what it is they need.

"We will ask what the car or van will be used for, if it's for family use, business use, whether they want a new or used car?

"We get as much information as to what they want and their circumstance and we provide them with the options.

"It's our job to help and reassure the customer they are making the correct purchase decision.

"Our reputation and service is everything to us. If you look after the customer, they will always come back"

For more information about the Warners Motor Group visit www.warnercars.co.uk , or visit their Eastern Avenue, Gloucester or Shannon Way, Tewkesbury showrooms.

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