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heycar meets Robert Forrester

Written By Andrew Brady

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For the third part of our series we spoke to Robert Forrester. Robert has been the CEO at Vertu Motors for over 13 years but surprisingly admits to not being a massive car fanatic. We wanted to find out how that affects his role and his views on the current political climate’s impact on the industry.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part is when you’ve got an infinite amount of work to do and trying to maintain some degree of work-life balance.

I’m obsessed by the car business. I think it’s a really interesting industry. You’ve got different stakeholders and you’re not completely in control of your own business but you’ve still got to deliver results. I’m certainly not a petrol head though, in fact I’m certain no one who has ever met me would call me a petrol head.

I see my key role in the business as a dual one between allocating capital effectively and ensuring the business has the right culture based on our values.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and why?

Tricky question since choosing one may upset our other 20 franchises!

This might be surprising given the business we are in, but I tend to use trains a lot and would characterise myself as an LMS Black Five steam engine. They just kept going on and on, keeping their heads down, working every day!

What are your road trip essentials?

I have to have Apple CarPlay so I can dictate text messages, access great podcasts and see my diary while on the road. I think Apple CarPlay is really good for helping me stay productive and that’s important if I know I’m going to be on the road for a while.

If you could take a road trip anywhere, where would it be and why?

I’d take a road trip to the coast of mid-Wales around Dolgellau. When you get there it’s absolutely stunning. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and I like the area. It’s really fun to drive around as well through the forests and over the passes.

Who would be your favourite celebrity passenger?

At the moment I’d say Laurence Fox (controversially). I think he would be good fun and certainly provide plenty of conversation!

With Brexit adding such uncertainty to the political climate over the last few years, what challenges have you found in maintaining a solid used car operation?

I don’t think Brexit has made any difference to used cars at all to be honest. I think it has made a major difference to new cars though, because of the currency impact.

It will affect the used car industry further down the line because it will set the parameters for the economy. It’s fairly obvious but it depends whether Brexit is ultimately successful or not. The thing about Brexit is it unleashes the potential of the British people and government and that can go two ways. With independence and decision making comes the ability to do the wrong things!

I think the automotive industry will have its own particular challenges around Brexit. Assuming the British government make the right decisions around deregulation and investment outside the South East then we should be reasonably optimistic.

Don't forget to check out our other interviews in the series with Jason Cranswick and Daksh Gupta.

robert forrester