Almost a century in a motoring industry that never stands still

The Millbay Road workshop – one of the first in the UK to give individual technicians ramps

The Millbay Road workshop – one of the first in the UK to give individual technicians ramps - Credit: Archant

In the second part of our special feature on Vospers, we move into the present day with Peter Vosper and natural succession to his eldest son, Nick Vosper. TIM HERBERT reports

“Following the death of my father in 1974, I must confess it took me a while to set aside my natural caution before embracing the entrepreneurial spirit that had made Vospers such a success over the previous 50 years,” said Peter.

“By 1980, we had built a new van and truck facility, as well as moving into the motorcycle and powerboating markets. My father had sparked a lifelong interest in boats and we would often attend the Cowes-Torquay powerboat race.

“Vospers proudly sponsored some famous yachtsmen, including Chay Blyth and Peter Phillips, and were involved in the British Grand Prix rounds of the World Offshore Powerboat Championships.

“In the motoring sphere, we took on the opportunity to represent Ford in Truro and Penzance, developing a site that would eventually lead to Vospers of Truro becoming one of 16 UK Ford dealers to win the inaugural European Chairman’s Award.

“This was the first of many for the Vospers Group and we have won more than 30 awards since 1988. It was at the celebration ceremony that I met Alex Trotman, who would become the first non-American to be named CEO of Ford.

“I was now a member of the Ford strategy committee and the company model was changing. We were always looking to acquire bigger and better premises, resulting in a new purpose-built site in Plymouth.

Most Read

“At the time, it gave us a pioneering octagonal showroom with no windows and an entrance through the main foyer to an area designed to give the customer a motor show experience, with models hanging from the ceiling and innovative displays throughout.

“The showroom became known as ‘The Arena’ and I spent time at the Mazda factory in Japan, learning about new ideas and concepts in the enhancement of customer experience when it came to selling cars.

“Vospers had branched out further in Cornwall and by the turn of the millennium, my son Nick was taking an increased role in the business, having completed his MBA at Exeter University. Nick initially took over the new Vospers Rentacar operation and, with the changes in franchise requirements, brought in the Fiat brand to the business.

“During this period, Vospers added Ford dealerships in Torbay, Exeter, Exmouth and Tiverton. There was also a change in activity in Plymouth, where we took on the franchises for Renault and Nissan.

“We moved our service department at Marsh Mills and established dedicated showrooms for Renault and Nissan. The growth continued with the acquisition of the Peugeot franchises in Plymouth and Torbay. New showrooms were also built for Mazda and Seat under the Vospers name.

“In the past few years, Nick has taken on the position of managing director for Vospers, while I became company chairman. Nick has set us on a future path for development within Vospers, encouraging two fellow directors and one senior manager to complete their MBA programmes at Exeter University.

“The motoring industry, as we have learned over almost a century of involvement, never stands still. Further developments have been added to the Marsh Mills site in Plymouth and a new site in Exeter has a two-story FordStore for cars and commercial vehicles.

“There is also a separate showroom for prestige used cars and the development cost over £15m. it is just one of the many ventures we have taken on through our passion for motoring and a dedication to growth in the South-West region we proudly call home.

“From the humble beginnings of my grandparents running a general shop and wireless supplies almost 100 years ago, Vospers is now in its fourth generation and ready to take on the new opportunities in a sector that has been a passion for my family.”