Copart UK embarking on growth programme while post-Brexit trade negotiations near their conclusion

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on October 8th 2020, 10:10am

Vehicle remarketing business Copart is undergoing an ambitious growth programme to increase its vehicle storage capacity and make way for strategic development and expansion in the UK.

Last year, Copart UK acquired an extra 22 acres of land at its centre of operations in Bristol and has now added a further 23 acres at the site for further development and usage.

The firm has also secured planning permission for a seven-acre expansion to its York premises, which is being prepared for use toward the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, Copart UK will add a further five acres to its base in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

The expansions, combined with further improvements at Copart’s other operation centres in the UK will provide storage capacity for a further 6,000 vehicles, which will increase its overall storage capacity by ten per cent prior to the winter.

The expansion programme is part of Copart’s wider strategy to develop and acquire land and use it to better serve its UK customers.

Supported by the US arm of the business, Copart UK has said that further investment opportunities are likely to come to allow for even more new developments across the UK.

Copart UK’s director of property, security and specialist services, Simon Sheldon-Wilson told Fleet News: “Our continued success means that our requirement for land continues to grow.

“We currently own more than 537 acres giving us the capacity to process around 60,000 vehicles at any one time. Our strategy for ongoing growth means we have embarked on an ambitious programme to identify, acquire and develop additional land for our business.”

Phil Briggs, director of operation centres, transport and engineering, added: “It’s a very exciting time for Copart UK as we continue to grow in line with customer demand.

“Following the recent expansion of our logistics fleet, this significant investment into land acquisition and the extension and improvement of our existing operation centres will further strengthen our UK wide storage capacity, offering our customers the convenience of additional locations across the country and enabling us to continue providing the industry leading service they have come to expect.”

Meanwhile, Copart’s global operations business in Dallas, US has undergone a senior leadership shake-up this week, with a new chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief marketing and product officer appointed.

With former chief operating officer Sean Eldridge having retired, Steve Powers - who had served as Copart US’ Eastern Division vice president of operations and been with the firm since 1995 - has been appointed to the role in his stead.

Former Avis Budget Group and Lithia Motors chief financial officer John North will now serve as Copart’s chief financial officer, and former president of and ex-CEO of Healthgrades, Scott Booker, will take over as Copart’s new chief marketing and product officer.

The new trio of executives will report to Copart president Jeff Liaw, who said that he was “delighted to appoint these three exceptional leaders to their new positions.”

Elsewhere, European Council president Charles Michel has called on the UK to “put its cards on the table” over a post-Brexit trade deal following discussions with the prime minister, as the deadline to come to an agreement draws closer.

Formal negotiations between the UK and the EU ended last week, but officials are still working toward a deal.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who is responsible for no-deal contingency planning, said that the outcome of negotiations thus far provided “cause for steady optimism”, but the UK’s chief negotiator Lord Frost warned that differences remained over the longstanding sticking points of state aid and fisheries.

Both sides are aiming to reach a deal before the end of October to allow enough time for formal ratification before the end of the year, when the post-Brexit transition period expires. After December 31, UK-EU trade will be subject to World Trade Organization terms if a new arrangement has not been enacted.

When speaking to a House of Lords committee on Wednesday, Lord Frost reiterated the prime minister’s warning that the UK could leave the negotiating table should an agreement not be in place by October 15, and said that the government would be “content” to trade with Europe under WTO terms.

He added: “We believe we will prosper if we do so” but conceded that the preference would be to have a free-trade agreement in place adding that a deal was “eminently achievable”.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph quotes Gove as saying that the UK will “not be held hostage” as the negotiating process nears it close, adding: "No one will be happier than me if we can conclude an agreement, but we have an absolute obligation to ensure the country is ready in the event that we don't."

Taking to Twitter, Michel said that the EU would “prefer a deal” to be in place, but vowed that it could not come “at any cost” to the block.

After a video call with each other at the weekend, Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen were both clear in that being able to agree a deal was a matter of “importance” and that negotiators would “work intensively” to try to find a compromise in the areas of difference.

Extended discussions between officials are continuing in London this week and will then continue in Brussels next week, according to Downing Street.

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Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
October 8th 2020, 10:10am

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