Former Marshall Motor Group CEO Daksh Gupta has explained why he couldn’t stay on at the dealer group he loved after it was taken over by Constellation.
The investment vehicle behind BCA, We Buy Any Car and Cinch snapped MMG off the stock market in a £325m deal last year and Gupta left shortly after it was agreed.
Gupta explains that Marshall had been ‘his baby’, in a new Car Dealer Inspiring Leaders Podcast, sponsored by Mann Island Finance, released today on podcast channels and YouTube (above).
‘People could imagine how I felt about it,’ said Gupta.
‘It was my baby for a long time.
‘I think the reality is, when you have built a business for a long time, and I was there 15 years… it was very different because all of a sudden, you’re now no longer a publicly listed company.
‘You’re no longer the CEO for a standalone group, you’re now going to be subsumed into a much bigger entity. So in that situation, strategy is not going to really sit with you, it’s going to sit elsewhere.
‘I think people can get why I made that decision. It’s nothing against Constellation or any of the individuals there. It’s just a personal preference that I think I would have struggled personally in that environment.
‘That’s not the environment necessarily of Constellation. It’s just the structure. It’s not going to be for everyone, is it?’
Gupta has finally spoken out about that difficult period more than a year after leaving the business.
He exited in May 2022 after the board issued a statement to the stock market where they admitted they had been completely unaware a deal between Constellation and the Marshall family (the group’s biggest shareholder) was in the offing.
During the 52-minute interview, Gupta talks about his growth strategy at Marshall Motor Group, his leadership lessons and career advice for those wanting to take a similar path as well as that emotional departure from the dealer group he took from a £300m turnover business to one bringing in £4bn a year.
When will he return?
During the podcast, Gupta explains why he hasn’t yet made a return to a top job in the automotive industry – and reveals he has been working with Ford in a consultancy capacity on its transition to agency sales.
‘I said I was really open minded about what I would do,’ said Gupta.
‘I’m in a really fortunate position where I can be picky. And I’m only going to do stuff where it’s got a very clear strategy, where the people are right and where the ownership is, right.
‘Where there’s ambition, because I don’t want to babysit. I’ve been offered four roles in the last few months. But, you know, it’s got to be right, and it’s got to be something that’s going to stimulate me.’
Clearly another role in a large car dealership group would excite Gupta, but he explains that they simply don’t exist at the moment.
‘In reality, the roles at those big groups, there’s very few of them there,’ he adds.
‘It’s a very stable population who lead those groups. If you sit there and analyse that, sort of the people who are running those groups have been there a long time, you know, guys like Darren [Edwards, Sytner], Eddie [Hawthorne, Arnold Clark], Robert [Forrester, Vertu] – these guys have been there a long, long, long time as CEO.
‘They do a brilliant job. And, as I said, you can only go somewhere, if there’s a vacancy that comes up and even if that vacancy comes up, you’ve got you’ve got to basically be on the shortlist. You’ve got to go through a process, and there’s no guarantee you’d get that.’
Gupta reveals he has now been looking outside of the automotive industry as he ‘isn’t ready to retire yet’.
He also explains he has talked to investors about a ‘buy and build’ dealership group – during his tenure at Marshall Motor Group he completed an acquisition every 57 deals – but he said the automotive sector is ‘quite tough to get funding for right now’.
Ford’s agency model
Gupta says he has been keeping himself busy by following the car dealer industry headlines over the past year, because the motor industry has been ‘such an important part of my life’. And he’s been keeping his hand in with a consultancy role helping Ford shape its agency sales agreements with its network across Europe.
He explained: ‘So for me, it is a project to help out on retail distribution. It is a really, really interesting project to get involved with, because obviously, it’s probably the biggest transformation, or one of the one of the biggest transformations, that’s going on right now, in terms of the automotive space.’
Gupta said he was proud the Marshall business had been recognised during this time there as a great place to work and said he thought it was important staff felt engaged.
He spoke at length during the podcast about his career and how he had managed to work his way to the top and had plenty of words of advice for those wanting to follow his lead.
He added: ‘Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. You know, I really, really would say to people, because a lot of people do message me and ask me for their advice about how they can do what I did. And it is about hard work.
‘No one gives anything for free. But you can do it. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Because if this guy can do it, then anyone can do it. I really do believe that.’
The full episode can be found on podcast platforms now by searching the Car Dealer Inspiring Leaders series or watch it on YouTube at the top of this story.