As recently as 2013, Acorn Truck Sales took on an Iveco franchise. We talk to Sales Manager, Darren Brown, about their Iveco experience.
Based on the east side of London, family-owned Harris Holdings, which incorporates Acorn Truck Sales, took the decision to take on an Iveco franchise, starting in May 2013. A few months later, Surrey Iveco Dealer Grays Truck & Van called in the administrators.
Not the best of starts, but according to Brown, things have gone even better than expected.
“We had a five year plan and invested accordingly in stock, premises, and people from the outset. We soon discovered that things were moving faster and better than planned, meaning we were able to invest earlier to expand the business.”
Evidence of this additional investment is shown by Acorn Truck Sales’ recently opened, full service, Iveco franchise at Waltham Cross in North London.
The majority of Brown’s earlier experience was with DAF at Morgan Elliot and HTC, however taking on the Iveco franchise came as a pleasant surprise. He tells us, “This is the best Iveco range we have ever had; truck of the year and now van of the year with the excellent Hi-Matic gearbox. I don’t think that enough has been made of how good the product is. We are under no illusions, the market share tells us that Iveco is not everyone’s brand of choice in the UK – but this is for historical reasons; we need to make sure people are trying the new product.”
Brown highlights in particular the Daily at 7.2 tonnes GVW, which is well suited to their London location. “We are hitting the people who have outgrown 3.5 tonne vans, and who want something less aggressive than a 7.5 tonner to carry out high street deliveries. It’s not like a truck – more an overgrown van.”
Stock Vehicles Driving Trial
Acorn are doing what they can further up the weight range, and are investing heavily in ready-bodied trucks to meet the needs of customers in a hurry. In this way, Brown hopes they will buy their first Iveco because of ready availability, but come back for a second and third when they have experienced the product. Stock vehicles include scaffold bodies, 26 tonne crane trucks and curtainsiders, and can be turned around in under a week. “We recently got an enquiry for a new curtainsider on a Thursday at 4pm – the customer was on the road with it by Tuesday morning,” said Brown.
Head Office Support
Truck manufacturer’s UK head offices don’t always get things right, and Darren agrees that there have been too many people at the top of Iveco over recent years. However, he has glowing praise for the current boss, Stuart Webster: “The Basildon move was positive, and Stuart seems to have the right mix to push this forward. We feel that we get the right level of support from Iveco head office. This includes investment in getting products out there, and good deals to entice customers to buy – some will then stay with the Iveco brand.”
Iveco announced in January that they were planning to increase the size of their Daily sales network by offering the van sales franchise to existing service dealers – but under the control of the main dealer for the area. Acorn Truck Sales is opting to make the investment in additional van centres themselves, with two new van outlets in the pipeline for 2016. Brown conveys his message clearly, “If we are opening a sales dot on the map, it needs to be our dot.”
Brown acknowledges that resale value is still an issue for the Stralis, but sees a light in the near distance, “There are very few 2013 model Stralis trucks on the used market yet. When they start to come back, the values may start to surprise some people. Acorn is planning to increase their focus on the used sales arena – currently the used operation works out of Thurrock, and is starting a sales drive through a new series of advertising in Truck and Plant Locator magazine.
The Way Forward?
The Acorn Truck Sales experience has shown that an Iveco franchise can pay. Acorn’s Iveco business has to compete for investment at Harris group level, with MAN dealership PCL and DAF dealer Harris Commercials, and is succeeding in gaining the investment. This shows that the owners can see that the Iveco model works. Acorn’s accounts support the news with turnover increasing more than threefold to £18m, and profitability increasing year on year.
They are not alone in this respect. Glenside Commercials in Wales have recently opened a fantastic new Iveco facility, and Brown is convinced that there will be more to come.