Used car auction house BCA to hold trial physical sale for first time since pandemic

  • BCA will be holding a physical sale on December 8 in Nottingham
  • First sale is expected to feature 500 cars and is billed internally as ‘experimental’
  • Some dealers welcome the move while others brand it a ‘u-turn’

Time 7:56 am, November 23, 2023

Used car auction house BCA will be holding a trial physical auction for the first time since closing all sites during the pandemic.

The auction giant shut halls across the UK for live sales in March 2020 and has been operating purely online ever since.

However, sources have told Car Dealer the auction house is now planning a trial sale on December 8 at its Nottingham auction site.

The sale is being billed internally as ‘experimental’ and is likely to feature around 500 cars.

One dealer, who had been told the sale was due to take place, welcomed the move.

‘For some cheaper cars it is worth doing as you really need to be able to see them properly as they run through the lanes in person,’ he told Car Dealer.

However, others branded the move a ‘u-turn’ after three years of purely online used car auctions.

BCA confirmed to Car Dealer the sale will take place.

A spokesperson said: ‘BCA are holding a special Christmas event at our Nottingham centre on December 8.’

In late 2020, the company began radically reshaping its business and making redundancies across its physical auction sites. 

Auction centres saved considerable money selling cars purely online, but have faced increased competition in recent years from the likes of Motorway and Carwow, both of whom sell used cars to dealers in online auctions.

Car Dealer reported in April 2021 that BCA sources at the time had told car dealers it was ‘unlikely to ever return’ to physical sales.

However, other auction houses were desperate to reopen their doors following the pandemic.

Main rivals Manheim began reopening its sites in late 2021, at first with a trial of three, and then later increasing that to six. In September last year, it reopened all its remaining sites and moved to a full ‘hybrid model’ of online and physical sales.

Other smaller independent sites, like G3 Vehicle Auctions, rapidly reopened their lanes after the pandemic.

At the reopening of the new G3 site in Leeds in 2021 (video above), Used Car Awards host and Wheeler Dealer star Mike Brewer told Car Dealer that he thought there was ‘nothing better than coming to a physical auction’.

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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