THIS WEEK

I would rather not try to predict what is going to happen to the market in Europe, because until we get next week’s Brexit votes out of the way nothing is going to happen over here that is predictable. So I thought I would concentrate on what was happening as far as the US market was concerned, as many of you may not get the chance to read that publications like the Wall Street Journal.
They are reporting today that Tesla has reached a deal with lenders in China. And it is quite a deal, a bit of a snub to Pres. Trump and one that signals how much they going to put into the Chinese market. $521 million. It is called the Giga Factory and for good reason. Now we know that the company have been ambitious before, but they are targeting 10,000 vehicles a week, or half a million vehicles a year, out of this operation. Not for the faint-hearted.
If the Americans thought they had enough choice, one major manufacturer does not think so and they are heading back into the market. The PSA group this week announced that after three decades away they are returning stateside. One of the most improved manufacturers in the world over the past 10 years, they are seeing this as crucial to their future development. They have spent the past three years remodeling and reengineering their vehicles to suit the US and Canadian markets.

Rounding up the big US stories of the week, something that we would give our right arm for over here – Fiat Chrysler is just about to invest $4.5 billion in a new plant in Michigan. This will create 6,500 jobs and will provide them with a new facility to produce Jeep’s sport utility vehicle.

So the rest of the world is getting on with it. Investment is not in short supply, and although the world may not be growing quite as fast as it has been, the industry is changing so fast there is investment being made. As pretty well the largest manufacturing sector out there, and certainly the most high-profile, it seems a shame that the UK is seeing its manufacturing base head off in the wrong direction at speed.

Have a great weekend – better brush up on your Brexit jargon, it might be needed by Wednesday to understand what’s going on.

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Invention is the mother of necessity.
Thorstein Veblen (1857 – 1929)
He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)
Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.
Gene Fowler

If at first you don’t succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.
Bill Lyon

THIS WEEK

Inchcape showed this week the value of being a global company. While its performance in the UK fell substantially [by about 72% actually], its operations globally showed only a marginal reduction in profit. This was partly down to stunning figures in Russia, where sales have responded very positively to government incentives. Other markets are apparently under more pressure than us, and it is interesting that they are not the first retailer to put into question manufacturers supply issues last year, especially with regard to WLTP.

And indeed the swing in their fortunes was nothing compared to announcements from Aston Martin this week. Losing the previous year’s profits of £68 million might seem unfortunate, turning it into a similar loss is surely just careless. Much of this was linked to the flotation of the company and fees paid to advisers as well as incentives paid to senior management. Not a great advertisement for investor return. On the other hand, the underlying trading performance of the company looks fairly solid with expanding sales in several markets around the world.

Let us not forget it is March 1 today. A day when everybody should be rushed off their feet, though some of my clients tell me they were busier last week than they are this. Having said that, the start of the year has been better than many have predicted. Especially when Auto Trader reported that a study showed that a third of potential car purchasers in the UK have been put off making that decision because of the uncertainty around Brexit. It has certainly hit car manufacturing which is 20% down again.

Have a great weekend, some people tell me it is just 29 days until “we take back control”

THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

In the end, everything is a gag.
Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977)
Those who flee temptation generally leave a forwarding address.
Lane Olinghouse
Vote early and vote often.
Al Capone (1899 – 1947)

The best measure of a man’s honesty isn’t his income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.
Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – )

THIS WEEK

It has been a pretty sobering week for the car industry as the country takes back control as we approach Brexit. Honda’s decision to close its Swindon plant after 30 years came as something of a shock. And Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, said that the effect of this would be nothing compared to the effects of a no-deal Brexit. Following up on that story, if you read the Wall Street Journal you will see that Honda has announced that some of that  production will travel across the pond. No doubt in order to beat Pres Trump’s tariffs for foreign produced vehicles into the US.

Just when we thought there was so much news around about Brexit that nothing else could get through, there was an another announcement in the States yesterday that Ford is under investigation for problems with emissions. The same Wall Street Journal, amongst others, carried the story yesterday, apparently the result of whistle blowers within the organisation questioning the manufacturers analysis of test results to arrive at their emissions figures. Thank goodness we will all be turning electric, we won’t have to worry about emissions at all then.

The issue for the UK post Brexit is fairly clear. We are highly unlikely to be seen as the landing point for car production because the country does not give access to Europe and all other markets are simply too far away. The world is becoming much more protectionist, and in those circumstances everyone will put up blocks. Which does not necessarily leave us in an encouraging place.

But interestingly, speaking to senior executives, the first quarter of this year has so far proved pretty encouraging. Not least because sales teams love a narrative, and customers generally love an excuse to leap into action. What better excuse than “If you want a new car make sure you buy it before the end of March in case the price goes through the roof”. We went through this two years ago, however, and it would be good to remember just how disappointing April was after a fine start to the year. At that time it was because of the change in vehicle excise duty.

Anyway have a good weekend, there’s plenty of rugby on, take back control (of the remote perhaps).

THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

One’s first step in wisdom is to question everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 – 1799)

To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)

Beware of the man who won’t be bothered with details.
William Feather (1908 – 1976)

The world is not yet exhausted; let me see something tomorrow which I never saw before.
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

THIS WEEK

Don’t panic! That is the message from BP in their recent report regarding future use of fossil fuels. They claim that even with adoption of new, low and zero emission technology, the use of fossil fuels will continue fairly unabated for the next 20 years. Giving them, presumably, plenty of time to adapt their model. And plenty of time for car manufacturers to adopt new technologies.
Don’t panic! Might be good advice to UK car production workers, as Ford is the latest to suggest that they might be looking to move production out of the UK post Brexit. While they don’t produce cars over here any more, they make a lot of engines and components. Such a crucial and iconic manufacturer would cause real damage to our industry if it were to move. As ever in this increasingly fraught debate, it is impossible to tell whether this is posturing and scaremongering, or reality. I suspect in most cases it is the latter, but it is undeniable that most large businesses are against a no-deal Brexit, and will do anything to influence the debate in the opposite direction.
As Carlos Ghosn continues to try to secure his release in Japan, it would appear that Renault and Nissan are making overtures towards healing their rift. Or at least letting the world know that they still want a long-term union. Meanwhile, their erstwhile leader has sacked, or parted company, from his previous legal team and his new appointees are making a fresh challenge against his continued arrest.
Finally, just in case BP were wrong in their predictions, it seems that Shell are hedging their bets. A significant takeover this week of a recent battery start-up, Sonnen, which specialises in home battery “Walls”, the sort of thing that Tesla has diversified into. As one blogger put it, we might think of oil as a commodity, but it is a convenient way to use stored energy. So big oil’s interest in batteries isn’t exactly surprising. Which is why BP and Total have also bought battery businesses in the past couple of years.
Have a great weekend, only 4 weeks until the start of the F1 season.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
A compliment is a gift, not to be thrown away carelessly, unless you want to hurt the giver.
Eleanor Hamilton
Insist on yourself; never imitate… Every great man is unique.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
THIS WEEK

I can pretend that the big news of the week has been Nissan’s decision to pull out of manufacturing the X-Trail in Sunderland, allegedly breaking an agreement with the government. But I won’t, even though its ramifications will be widespread. Because I suspect that the damage that has already been done by the Brexit debate has clearly signalled what is going to happen to car manufacturing in the UK over the next 10 years.
I could suggest that the investment by Amazon in Aurora, a self driving car start-up (notice how they really never invest in existing manufacturers, the technology is so new, the thinking so different that they seem to steer clear of our industry) with $530 million, no small sum, will be the one that will have the biggest impact. And in time, like everything else that Amazon has already done, it could well be.
But the big news so far today, at least, is the announcement that JLR made a thumping £3.4 billion loss in the last quarter of last year. Now okay, there were some technical reasons for this – they wrote down the value of their estate and their technology by most of that. However in trading terms they still lost nearly £300 million, which caused the write-down and everything else.
Obviously we are all hoping for a significant change in direction in markets over the next few years, because the current status quo is not sustainable. Global trade wars, trading blocs like the EU beginning to fracture, Chinese market beginning to plummet (still, at least that’s only a quarter of the world’s population) European neighbours falling out with each other over yellow vest protesters. You look anywhere and the news is not good. And if I look through the headlines of the major business papers, the only good news stories in our sector pretty only come from new entrants, not from the existing players. Headwinds pretty well everywhere.
Have a great weekend, be careful though, there are headwinds in the weather forecast too.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.
Clifton Fadiman (1904 – 1999)
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.
Don Marquis (1878 – 1937)
Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off.
Ellen DeGeneres

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.
Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)

THIS WEEK

The global economic situation is worrying, but the UK is even worse. Whatever the outcome of the Brexit talks, one cannot get away from the fact that investment in car manufacturing in this country has fallen by 80% in the last three years. And while, to balance the argument, it fell by 50% in the two years before that, you could argue it should have gone up again. I’m not sure that this island of ours is being seen as a good place to invest in at present.

Our industry is fairly unique, in that it is one of the very few products that are produced in large numbers and that are counted accurately (even if there are some pre-registrations in there). When output and investment fall as spectacularly as they have done, we should all take notice.

It was announced this week that Go Vauxhall, the wholly owned subsidiary of the manufacturer, was being absorbed into Robins and Day. They are, of course, a wholly owned PSA subsidiary that represents Peugeot and Citroen. A significant move as the French owned group’s three brands align more closely. We wonder whether we will begin to see triple branded showrooms at some stage, and whether this represents the start of an important trend for the group.

Two widely diverging views of China this week. First of all, SoftBank and their $100 billion Vision Fund, (set up to invest in technology companies all over the globe) is set to invest heavily in Guazi, which is one of China’s largest used-car trading sites. The company is only five years old and is already valued at $8.5 billion. With the slowdown in new car sales in the Chinese market, peer-to-peer selling of used cars is seen as the next big thing. And Vision Fund wants to be right at the forefront of this investment.

This contrasts sharply with Ford’s experience this week which has seen its ambitious Chinese joint venture suffering a 54% fall in sales over the past year. Not surprisingly, US products are proving quite difficult to move in China at the moment with the ongoing trade war.

Have a great weekend, don’t forget to pack your Arctic clothing.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them.
Lily Tomlin (1939 – )
Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.
Otto von Bismarck (1815 – 1898)
Success didn’t spoil me, I’ve always been insufferable.
Fran Lebowitz (1950 – )

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910), Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

Personality tests, or profiles, are still used as part of the act of application process by some employers.

I’m often asked the right way to fill them in. Well, let me tell you a secret, there isn’t one.

But there is a wrong one. Such tests are designed to find out what you really think about yourself, and they also check for inconsistencies. Why? Because if you’re lying it is much more difficult to be consistent and this will be high-lighted.

So here is my advice. Be yourself, instinctively you will know most of the answers straightaway. If you really want to impress, put yourself in a confident, in control, decisive frame of mind. And then take the test.

I had a candidate recently who decided (wrongly) that the client was looking for a very detail minded, highly organised, disciplined individual. Except that was just not him, so he came across as dangerously in need of psychiatric care. Which was not the impression they were trying to create.

Personality profiles are rarely used now as a Pass/Fail mechanism. They are much more used to influence the interview process.

So relax about them, answer them confidently, instinctively and you will be fine.

 

To be honest, I’m not certain why these are still used. Most of the information you were required to calculate in days gone by is done on screen.

Nevertheless, some employers have a bee in their bonnet about numeracy skills. They view it as absolutely essential to be part of this industry.

The problem is, because we do so much by computer, and rely on them so much, most people don’t know how to answer the questions nowadays. Perhaps this is one reason why some assessment centres have such a high fail rate?

But you can cope and train yourself to be good. There are plenty of sites where you can practice numerously skills online. And that is what I suggest you do. Some even request that you do it without a calculator. Fine for anybody with great mental arithmetic – though why that would make them a great manager I have absolutely no idea – not so great for the number blind amongst us.

But practice does make perfect, so you can tell your percentages from your efficiencies, from your deductions and so on. If you think you are likely to have to take one of these then practice. At least you won’t panic when confronted with one for the first time.

I hope that all adds up.

Sitting where we are, in the middle, we can tell that it is a difficult automotive market.

But there are bright spots, regionally, by franchise, by department.  As a rule though, we know the market is tough. Falling consumer confidence and falling sales are making people nervous.

And nervous people make bad decisions, or at least different decisions to the ones they make in good times. Which is my message this week – to quote The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy “Don’t Panic!”.

Or rather don’t throw away all the good practices you have learnt in rather more benign times, especially when it comes to recruitment.  Because the mistakes you make in haste and under pressure now will only come back to haunt you, and in today’s litigious environment they could cost you a lot.

Take these examples of panic measures from the past couple of weeks, both from reputable, well respected employers.  A manager needed a team leader quickly, meets a candidate from a stable background and offers the job almost on the spot, he confirms with an offer letter.  

As soon as notice has been handed in the contract is issued, asking him to break his current contract of a month’s notice and start within a week.  It is made clear that if he cannot agree the offer will be withdrawn.

Another client needs a sales manager and briefs us on a package – let us say of £50,000.  We put up several candidates, but one in particular we know is strong and emphasise that he is only interested if the offer is indeed the full 50.  Long process, lots of meetings and a call is made to this candidate – would he consider £35-40,000?

You and I know the answer, something unprintable followed by “Why have I wasted the last 3 weeks?”.  The client relents, and offers the full package. Except by now the candidate has lost interest and trust.

In both cases the recruitment was unsuccessful and left both parties feeling aggrieved.  The employers were upset because they felt they had offered what was required and had been rejected – the candidates because they knew there had an attempt to “tuck them up”.

THIS WEEK

It is not going well for Carlos Ghosn. Just a few hours ago Nissan and Mitsubishi issued a statement saying that he improperly received nearly $9 million from a jointly owned Dutch company. In addition the Japanese courts have continued to deny him bail. He has now been held since 19 November and there are even rumours circulating that Renault is about to look for a new head. Nobody outside of this case can tell exactly the truth of the matter, and whether this is a particularly vicious political battle between the rival Japanese and French arms of their coalition, but the personal consequences for somebody who was considered probably the biggest star on the global automotive stage is enormous.
And talking around the industry at the moment, there is a fair amount of doom and gloom. Not least because many commercial decisions have stalled in view of the paralysis in the wake of the Brexit crisis. Given that almost anybody I have spoken to in business is not in favour of a no-deal Brexit, one wonders what the future is for the country. And whatever the solution, the majority of people just wish that it could be sorted. After all we were told before the vote that this would all be done relatively easily. I am not certain most of us believe that now.
Looking across the pond to the United States, I see that Ford (who have not exactly posted fantastic results over here recently) are in talks with VW about technology for pickup vehicles. Considering they are two of the largest manufacturers in the world, it shows the level of investment required to launch new products. And  for those of us who remain suspicious that in time car manufacturing will become less important, and car software and the bolting together of standard components will become the norm.
Have a great weekend, why not pop down to Paris while you still can.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book – it makes a very poor doorstop.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)
He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit.
Unknown
I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), (attributed)

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

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