Bruce Clark, previously the group’s IT director for the past two years, takes up the newly created position. The move gives him a place on the company’s CEO committee and marks a “further step change” in the firm’s focus on technology strategy, Vertu added.
Further recruitment will now commence to replace Clark’s previous role and for a new head of data. These two recruits will join a team of 110 people charged with equipping Vertu with” robust internal systems and delivering a sector leading omni-channel retail environment”.
Car dealerships have been busy bolstering their digital presence as more sales are conducted virtually, particularly at the initial stages.
Vertu is the fifth largest automotive retailer in the UK with a network of 159 sales outlets across the UK, including more than a dozen north of the Border.
The firm told investors: “Exploiting the opportunities that technology offers is a key differentiator in the ability to prosper in the automotive retail sector today and in the future.”
Chief executive Robert Forrester said: “Vertu has long led the sector from a technology perspective, as illustrated by our offering full online sales of used cars ahead of anyone else back in 2017, and these changes will equip Vertu with the necessary skills and strategies to drive our omni-channel offering into the next decade and beyond.”
Last month, Vertu further upgraded its profit outlook amid “sector tailwinds” and provided more details on its Scottish growth plans.
The first dealership is to be located at Darnley, to the south of Glasgow. It replaces the current used car operation.
In March’s trading update ahead of next month’s full-year results, the group confirmed that the additional three new Scottish Toyota dealerships would be at new locations.
Meanwhile, as part of planned re-franchising activity at Macklin’s premises in Dunfermline, the Renault and Dacia franchise has been added to the Fife dealership to operate alongside Vauxhall, which opened in July.
A further additional franchise outlet for Hyundai will be added, completing the development.
In January, a newly built freehold dealership opened in Newbridge, Edinburgh representing Kia and Peugeot. These franchises relocated from leasehold premises on the expiration of the lease.
The MG franchise was also included in the new development with the business having been acquired last December.
Details of the Scottish changes came as Vertu updated investors on trading over the five-month period to the end of January.
Bosses are now anticipating an adjusted profit before tax of “not less than £75 million” for the full year. That compares with previous guidance of no less than £70m, and prior to that no less than £65m.
In the five-month period under review, new vehicle supply constraints restricted fresh supplies of used vehicles into the market.