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The women on stage at Car Dealer Live who are changing the face of the industry

  • We celebrate the women in the motor trade who spoke at Car Dealer Live this International Women’s Day
  • Topics and questions show a shift in attitudes to women in automotive roles
  • Rebecca Chaplin asks is this the year we finally let women get on with it?

Time 5:40 pm, March 8, 2024

Could this be the year that we finally stop talking about women in the motor industry?

At yesterday’s Car Dealer Live, it wasn’t on the agenda, no one mentioned how do we get more women into car dealerships, and we were all allowed to just be there. Women talking about cars with genuine questions about their work.

Today is International Women’s Day, and here’s a celebration of the people on stage who also happened to be women and were treated no different to the ones who happened to be men.

First up was Sue Corkin, group operations director at Chorley Group, who was on our franchised dealer panel.

She shared a view from inside the world of franchised dealerships at the moment, and said: ‘This year has been a better start. I think we’ve all felt a painful 2023, particularly towards the end. I think it’s positive that volumes are good but profit not so much.

Sue Corkin, Chorley Group

‘I’m sure we’re not on our own based on what was alluded to earlier about the valuation drop. We’re getting through that stock but at a cost. Q1 is usually our bumper quarter, unfortunately it won’t be this year.’

Next up was the Auto Trader research session presented by Catherine Faiers, chief operating officer at Auto Trader UK, who talked alongside Jo Smith (pictured top) from used car dealership Wink Cars – which has an all female team – about the disparity between retail and wholesale prices currently.

Faiers revealed: ‘Pricing has dominated our conversations with dealers over the last few months. We’ve never seen such a disconnect between what we’re seeing in retail and the wholesale market. 

We’re sitting there saying to retailers, follow what is happening on your forecourt not what’s happening at the auctions. Look at what your consumers are doing and price from retail.’

This was a sentiment the Wink Cars boss echoed, telling the audience: ‘There is this massive difference between our trade and retail prices at the moment. We had a part-ex yesterday and we paid well over CAP but the margin was still in it.

‘It’s good for us because we can show the consumer we’re paying them above CAP value but I’m happy to pay if the margin is there.’

Nicola Dobson CDL24

Nicola Dobson, Stellantis

Later, on the car manufacturer panel, director of used car operations for Stellantis UK Nicola Dobson talked about the challenges car makers face when it comes to electric vehicle sales.

Nicola Dobson, director of used vehicle operations at Stellantis UK, said: ‘Objectives are there for a reason and we fully support the objectives in terms of the 2035 ban, but I just think we need a bit more support in that as well.

‘Manufacturers can produce the vehicles to meet the [ZEV mandate] requirements but we also need additional support from government and infrastructure providers.

‘They need targets to put that infrastructure in place to build that demand. We can build the vehicles but we need incentives.’

Estelle Miller CDL24

Estelle Miller, EV Experts

On our final panel of the day, Estelle Miller, who co-founded independent used car dealership EV Experts also faced questions about retailing electric cars.

She explained: ‘We only sell electric cars, so we didn’t have a Q4 depreciation pain, we had a H1 last year pain but then prices stabalised in Q4.

‘As we’ve come through we had a strong December and then the start of this year have been pre-Covid levels so really positive.’

Not only that but the questions continued to come for Miller asking for more specifics on what were the used electric cars to buy, and which to avoid.

The event showed how far we’ve come in the last 10 years from the absence of questions about how more women can work in the industry. Instead, it feels like we might actually be allowed to just fit in like everyone else.

Hopefully those women just starting off in the industry – or maybe they’ve not even considered it yet – will see this group of women in a very diverse range of roles and see they too could be a great fit for a car business.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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