Auction firm Manheim is still undecided on whether to ever open its physical auction halls again

Time 2:58 pm, November 18, 2020

Cox Automotive International president Martin Forbes – the firm behind Manheim – says the company is still undecided about whether it will ever reopen auction halls.

The company has been operating purely online since the pandemic with 100 per cent of transactions taking place on its website.

Forbes says in an ‘ideal world’ they would never go back to physical auction halls, but he is conscious of making sure the company offers what customers want.

Speaking to Car Dealer in an exclusive video interview, a clip of which you can watch above, he says: ‘As we sit here today 100 per cent of our wholesale marketplace is sold online. 

‘Now that happened instantly at the point when we came out and were able to operate after the first lockdown. We’ve had record conversion rates, record values and residual values for the cars.

‘In an ideal world I would say we wouldn’t go back to physical auction halls.

‘But you have to look at what the rest of the market does, look at what our competitors do, listen to our customers.

‘But if we can find a way that satisfies their needs, then I would move and embrace this digital environment much more.’

A Manheim auction hall before the pandemic bit

Forbes said the company is ‘constantly assessing’ and listening to customers – both vendors and buyers – to see what they want from auction companies in the future.

Forbes was previously the CEO of Cox Automotive UK, but in May became president at Cox Automotive where he now looks after the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil business. 

He believes the auction industry should ‘work together’ to discover what customers want from auction firms in the future.

He added: ‘We see the benefits and efficiencies for our business of not having to run a car through a physical auction hall. 

‘I personally think that if we have to go back to physical auction halls and not embrace some of this change, then we would let a good crisis go to waste.

‘What we have to do is keep getting better at running a digital proposition to make sure our customers, our buyers and our vendors are getting an even better experience through digital. 

‘We’re still going through that and we will continue to work on that in 2021, 2022 and beyond.’

The Cox Automotive Market Insight Report for 2020 has been launched today. View it here.

You can watch the full interview with Forbes below.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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