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Online car seller Auto Trader has released its latest figures which reflect impressive growth, despite a tough car market.

The trading platform saw revenues jump by 8% in the year to 31 March.
 
Pre-tax profits in the business for the period soared by 15% to £242.2m, this includes £8.7m profit as the business sold almost half of its stake.
 
The company is not worried about Brexit causing any financial worries, but bosses did warn growth is unlikely to be fast for 2020.
 
Auto Trader said, “Despite a tougher new car market, manufacturers and agencies continue to see the value in our marketplace to advertise their new cars to consumers, with spend up by 18%.
 
“However, the short-term challenges faced by both of these customer types did impact our growth in the second half of the year.”
 
Ed Monk, associate director from Fidelity Personal Investing explained, “Much of the optimism around Auto Trader isn’t simply that it’s doing its job very well, which it is, but that it appears to have plenty of room to move into still with few obvious rivals to get in its way, it is now five times larger than its nearest competitor.
 
“The development of hosting new car sales gives Auto Trader a new world to disrupt and there’s no reason to think it won’t do that, while retailers are buying enhanced services from the company in greater numbers.”
 
At the same time, Auto Trader has released a new TV advert, its first from agency Karmarama.
 
The campaign highlights Auto Trader’s credentials as a destination for purchasing new cars and aiming to challenge existing consumer perceptions of the brand.
 
The "Silence the squawk" spot hones in on a sign saying "Brand new cars" and features a range of squawking birds sitting on and then flying away from a new vehicle.
 
Ben Darby, Auto Trader’s head of marketing communications, said: "The marketing challenge this time round is very different to recent years, but equally it offers an opportunity to test a bolder creative that has great potential to build a new type of equity into an already well-known brand. We’re eager to see how this new creative direction performs with new car buyers today and in the near future."

Electric vehicle company Arrival has expanded into 50,000 sq ft of office space in West London as part of its ongoing growth.
 
Situated in Kensington Village, the firm has increased its occupation of the Schroder UK Real Estate Fund (SREF) office by 45,000 sq ft in order to create its official UK headquarters and expand the business.
 
The technology firm specialises in affordable commercial electric vehicles, with trials already taking place with couriers DHL and UPS as well as Royal Mail and John Lewis Partnership.
 
Avinash Rugoobur, chief of strategy at Arrival, commented: “Over the past few years our operations have increased dramatically and we are excited to expand our footprint in Kensington Village to allow them to grow even more.
 
“It’s a beautiful space and we’re pleased that our presence means the building continues to support UK industry.”
 
Jessica Berney, SREF fund manager, added: “Arrival is an innovative and revolutionary company which is helping to transform the motoring industry. It is a real testament to Kensington Village that they have decided to use these facilities to support their expansion.
 
“We expect Arrival to grow further as demand for electric vehicles continues to grow and we will ensure we support their growth by providing the best in class workspaces.”
The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) has announced the appointment of former Travis Perkins senior digital and trade marketing manager, Stephen Richardson as its new marketing manager.
 
In the new role, which has been created as part of the Association’s recent restructure, Mr Richardson reports to BHETA COO Will Jones. His role combines responsibility for the trade association’s overall positioning, profile, product and membership expansion with responsibility for the Exclusively brand, driving the leading housewares and small electricals exhibition which was recently acquired in its entirety by BHETA.
 
Mr Richardson has more than 20years’ experience of both B2B and B2C marketing roles in blue chip organisations. Prior to his eight-year career at Travis Perkins, he spent 10 years at Focus DIY, latterly as marketing strategy and development controller. Before that he worked in a senior marketing role for Collectable World Studios, one of the UK’s largest manufacturers and importers of giftware.
 
He said of his appointment: “I’m delighted to be joining BHETA. It is an exciting move for me, when you consider the challenges and opportunities in the home enhancement industry at the present time. I am looking forward to getting involved in promoting the benefits of BHETA membership and in developing the wide range of products it offers from lobbying on key issues, to exhibitions, export and retail engagement to market data, networking and sector contacts and expertise. This role is all about adding value to member businesses and to the home enhancement sector as a whole.”
 
BHETA COO Will Jones added: “Stephen is a vastly experienced marketeer with in-depth knowledge of the market sectors we represent from many perspectives. I look forward to working with him and welcoming him to the BHETA team.”
Mars Petcare has confirmed the promotion of its former UK sales director Helen Warren-Piper to the post of general manager.
 
Warren-Piper replaces incumbent Deri Watkins who has been promoted to regional president of Mars Pet Nutrition Europe.
 
With over two decades worth of experience in sales and marketing behind her Warren-Piper will leverage knowledge gleaned from her time at consumer goods giants including P&G, United Biscuits and Premier Foods.
 
A vocal diversity champion Warren-Piper is a member of Women in Advertising & Communications.
 
Warren-Piper said: “We have some truly world-leading brands within our portfolio and my team is focused on driving growth through innovation, quality and purpose-led campaigns that really resonate with our consumers.
 
"One of the reasons I love working at Mars Petcare is because our associates are so energised by our purpose of creating a Better World for Pets, so I’m particularly excited by the task of translating this mission into fun and creative ways that connect back to our core business and brands.”
High street toy retailer The Entertainer has improved online sales by 32% since the introduction of their new website.
 
 Website speed has increased by 18%, while conversion rates have increased by 13% since the new site launch. The Entertainer’s fully enabled site now reflects in-store branding and continues the company’s narrative online.
 
“We are constantly striving for the best possible customer experience, as well as looking for avenues to take our products to different channels and geographies. That’s why we decided to create a brand-new state-of-the-art website. Crucially, we wanted to create a truly intuitive site that reflected our brand and its purpose,” said Phil Geary, CMO at The Entertainer. “With retail experience across multiple technologies, as well as a track record of satisfied customers, LiveArea was our choice to help bring that vision to life.”
 
The toy retailer implemented SAP Commerce technology, which provided the infrastructure for a content-led, visual, interactive and responsive online user experience. Enhancements included a mobile-first approach, a streamlined customer journey for faster buying, improved performance to support higher levels of traffic, faceted search, and a ‘Present Finder’ tool.
 
“This project has enabled our business to realise many major aims, including a reduction in time-to-purchase and greater visibility of our customer journeys,” explains Geary “The increases in site speed, conversion and sales speak for themselves, but most importantly the improvements have allowed us to continue providing fun and fulfilling experiences for our customers.”
Just in time for summer, Malibu is launching yet another limited edition, connected bottle campaign.
 
The bottle integrates NFC (near field communication) technology into the cap of the bottle with a QR code printed on the bottle neck.
 
Scanning the QR code or tapping the NFC tag launches an interactive mobile game where consumers can play to win Malibu-branded swag and receive cocktail recipes.
 
The idea of interactive bottles is not new. London-based agency SharpEnd has been pioneering connected bottles, starting with Absolut Vodka back in 2015.
 
SharpEnd and Malibu Rum launched their first connected bottles in the summer of 2016 and have continued to experiment with the technology ever since. The current campaign was created in-house.
 
“The IoT space is really maturing with more brands leveraging products as engagement platforms,” Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd said.
 
“Embracing the closure as an engagement point is also a great new development and will make it easier for more brands to skip certain complexities in the supply chain. It’s also clear that NFC is continuing to play a dominant role in driving consumer appetite for connected things and is fast becoming a standard expectation, particularly in Malibu’s case given their long history with technology innovation around their bottles. Well done to all involved.”
Heineken director Chris Jowsey is set to take on the chief executive role at Admiral Taverns next month, succeeding Kevin Georgel.
 
In April, Georgel announced his intention to leave the pub group to take up the chief executive role at Cornish brewery St Austell following the retirement of James Staughton.
 
Jowsey is currently director of Heineken’s on trade business in the UK. He has held a variety of strategic and commercial roles at Heineken since he first joined the business in 2003, having overseen the growth and expansion of Star Pubs & Bars, the leased and tenanted pub company of Heineken in the UK. He is also a non-executive director with T&R Theakston brewery.
 
Admiral Taverns chairman Tom Ward said: “Chris not only brings with him over 18 years of wider industry expertise but an in-depth knowledge and passion for the leased and tenanted pub sector. His career path at Heineken is impressive and his clear ambition, experience and understanding of the sector will be invaluable in leading the company through the next stage of its growth and development.”
 
Jowsey added: “I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues, the board and our investors to build on this impressive growth trajectory, championing the valuable role that pubs can play in their local communities and cementing Admiral’s reputation as a leading operator in the sector.”
48% of UK consumers want to pay for subscriptions with direct debit, according to recurring payments expert and direct debit provider GoCardless.
 
The subscription economy is booming, with 90% of Brits holding some form of subscription or another. Be that for music, makeup, snacks, films, or any other product you could possibly imagine (there’s even a personalised pasta subscription these days), it’s estimated that we spend an average of £56 a month on subscriptions.
 
Nearly half of consumers want to pay via direct debit. Yet major consumer websites in the UK, including Amazon Prime, HelloFresh and Spotify, fail to offer customers the option to pay via direct debit.
 
Further findings from the research reveal that 43% of UK consumers are ‘very unlikely’ to use credit cards to make any kind of recurring purchase online. And, the 48% of UK consumers who prefer to pay via direct debit for traditional subscriptions is offset by the 33% who were likely to choose debit card, and 12% who would opt to pay using a digital wallet such as Apple or Android Pay.
 
In response to this, John Phillips, Managing Director of Europe, Zuora Inc., commented “To meet changing consumer expectations in the subscription economy, businesses need to offer convenience and flexibility in how they accept payments.”
 
A sentiment echoed by Neil Proctor, Global Head of Customer Systems at Hive: “You need to understand customer preference for payments… You have to give customers options if you’re going to make recurring payments work for your customers.”
 
Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO, GoCardless, said: “Payment preferences can have a huge impact on checkout conversion, especially for subscription businesses. Businesses must understand that choice is crucial if they want to continue to appeal to consumers. If you fail to offer the most relevant options for recurring payments, customers will walk away.”
 
As the so-called “menu of payment options” increases, so does the consumer demand for choice. In order to attract and retain customers, businesses that offer a subscription service, and therefore rely on regular payments from their customers, must now be equipped to cater for an array of payment preferences. With direct debit leading the way, and e-wallets the payment preference underdog, it’s clear that startups need to be diverse and flexible in order to stay ahead of the game.
 
Tom Rotem, Chief Executive of Chargify commented: “Subscriptions are in essence relationships that constantly change over time. In recent years, the ability to offer a menu of payment options has increased in importance for both getting new customers in the door and retaining them as the customer/merchant relationship evolves.”
Strongbow will be present at the Isle of White festival this month with its Strongbow Yard experience, as well as a presence at music festivals Kendal Calling and Victorious.
 
The Strongbow Yard will feature a 10-metre high archer centrepiece, pyrotechnic displays and DJ’s, as well as Strongbow Original, Strongbow Dark Fruit and Strongbow Cloudy Apple
 
The activation will also include a “Refreshing People Live” stage featuring a piano duo taking requests from the crowd and, exclusive to Kendall Calling, an After Dark tent hosted by Strongbow Dark Fruit.
National housebuilder Redrow has launched a new TV campaign that aims to dispel the myths and outdated perceptions of new homes.

‘They Say…’, also promotes Redrow as a premium alternative to the second-hand property market.
 
Dave Bexon, group sales & marketing director at Redrow, said: “At Redrow, we are continuously striving to innovate both our marketing and customer service strategies for our customers.
 
“We were recently the first housebuilder to offer our customers the opportunity to fully, legally complete the reservation of a new home online, and in 2013 launched My Redrow, an online members’ area for our buyers to see the build progress of their home and style their homes.
 
“Our aim is to not only be the number one housebuilder of choice but to disrupt the new homes marketplace by ensuring consumers understand we are a premium alternative to second-hand homes.
 
“By significantly increasing our investment in marketing campaigns, we are able to raise awareness among a consumer audience that Redrow not only builds new homes but great communities to live in.”
 
The advert looks to debunk existing myths about new build homes that were uncovered in a Zoopla Smarter Property Solutions Survey.
 
The survey found that potential buyers consider new build homes easy to maintain, are more eco-friendly than a resale home and will often include the latest technology and have a good layout.
 
However, the results did show that the British public perception is that new builds have small rooms, are too uniform, and their look and style is not appealing.
 
The advert focuses on debunking these perceptions by outlining three benefits of a Redrow home. The housebuilder said its homes are not small, have character and a soul, as each home has its own unique characteristics, rather than being copies of one another.


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