A new chapter has begun for Ray Chapman Motors with the opening of its brand-new, state-of-the-art Volvo showroom on Canal Road, Bradford on Monday 9th October.
The family owned and run business has more than 50 years of success to its name and already has Volvo showrooms in Malton and York. The acquisition of Clive Brook Volvo businesses in Bradford and Huddersfield makes Ray Chapman Motors one of the largest family owned Volvo retailer groups in the UK.
With investment taking place across the whole Volvo dealer network, the sites in Bradford and Huddersfield were among the last few remaining that required refurbishing or rebuilding. Clive Brook was at a point in his career where he didn’t want to make the investment, so Ray Chapman Motors were approached by Volvo to acquire the two businesses.
The company’s new modern showroom and workshop facilities in Bradford significantly increases space for customers. “Customer parking is critical,” said Managing Director Duncan Chapman “At the old site there was nowhere to park a car in fact customers would drive in and drive away because they couldn’t find anywhere to park”. But he said the new showroom, which opened its doors for trade on October 9, is significantly better” - a premium facility offering a premium experience.
The Huddersfield site is currently going through a three-phase refurbishment programme that is expected to be finished early next summer.
There are a number of very clear objectives for both sites. The first is to give the customers of Bradford and Huddersfield a much improved experience when visiting the dealership.
The second objective is to retain customers. “We want to make sure that we retain customers and create loyalty,” Duncan said. “We can only achieve this by offering excellent levels of customer service and this becomes so much easier with highly dedicated professional team of people operating out of a premium facility.
“We’ll also have a far wider choice of used cars,” Duncan said. “There are 96 Volvo retailers throughout the UK and for the last two years our Malton and York dealerships have been number one and two Nationally for Volvo used car sales.
“We want to replicate this success in Huddersfield and Bradford and therefore we’ll be holding a greater range of new and used cars in stock. The aim is to provide up to 400 used Volvos available across the group.”
Within the new workshops, the company will have MOT and four-wheel alignment facilities, something it has not had in the past. They will offer ‘Volvo Personnel Service’ where technicians will have direct contact with customers, from the point of booking, right through to explaining the services which they themselves have carried out.
“We want customers to have access to be able to talk directly to the person who’s working on their car,” Duncan said.
The new showroom at Bradford also features two large glass partitions in the lounge area allowing customers to see directly into the workshop and to watch their car being worked on.
Duncan Chapman, Managing Director, is the third generation of the Chapman family to be involved. He said “Our business was established in 1969 by my late grandfather. We are probably one of the longest serving family-owned Volvo businesses in the UK. We are proud to have held the Volvo franchise for 54 years.”
The company’s founder, Ray Chapman, was an agricultural feed sales representative who had four sons, including Duncan’s father Raymond.
Duncan said “My father and one of his brothers were very interested in cars and between them they persuaded their father to buy a little garage between Malton and Pickering.”
The three of them went into business together, but within a short space of time Duncan’s father Raymond left his father and set himself up independently in Helmsley.
When my father went to Helmsley, he was working out of a small shed,” Duncan said. “He had an old post office van and a toolbox and was repairing cars but within a few years, he acquired the Ford franchise and built a new showroom. At a similar time to this, his father also acquired the Volvo franchise.
Many years passed but in 1987 Raymond’s father sadly passed away and he decided to sell his Ford business in Helmsley and purchase his fathers Volvo business in Malton from his family
Duncan joined the family business on a part time basis after leaving Barnard Castle School at the age of 16. “I had a passion for racing speedway bikes and turned professional signing for Middlesborough the day after I left school”. “After several bad accidents, I decided to hang up the leathers and work full time in the family business” said Duncan
Today the company is still family owned and family run with Duncan taking ultimate responsibility but with his sister Emma who is Head of all IT and his wife Wendy Head of HR and Marketing.
His son Nathan, is the 4th generation to join the company. He studied business and entrepreneurship at Nottingham University and is now Group Used Car Manager
Duncan said it felt “very good to have Nathan as part of the team.” It’s very reassuring. He’s bright, very entrepreneurial and he has brought a lot to the company. Within the last three years, our used car business has grown significantly at Malton and York thanks to him and his team.”
In 1994, the company relocated to brand-new, purpose-built premises in Malton and in 2000 they were asked by Volvo to build a new dealership in York. The Volvo brand was going from strength to strength due to increased popularity and a high demand for its products, so a bigger showroom was required to fulfil the ever-growing needs of Volvo owners.
Duncan said “The Volvo brand has been transformed within the last 13 years and with significant investment by The Chinese, we are now attracting a new breed of Volvo drivers
Back in 2010, Volvo set out their strategy to become the most progressive premium car brand in the world and began investing in new products to achieve that aim. Because of this, Volvo retail partners were asked to upgrade their facilities to provide the best setting for the new products coming to market. Ray Chapman Motors invested in a new dealership in York and refurbished its Malton showroom.
“As a family business we pride ourselves on looking after customers”. The business is built on retention and loyalty but low staff turnover also breeds customer confidence. Customers like to see familiar faces when visiting our dealerships
He stressed the company’s commitment to the Volvo brand.
“We have a phenomenal working relationship with Volvo and Ray Chapman Motors Malton and York have actually won the Volvo National Retailer of the Year Award for the past three years” he said.
“We could never have done that without our staff, and we could never have done it without the loyalty we have from customers. It all started in Malton and we still have customers who have been coming for over 40 years many of which are now our friends. We have generations of customers - some will bring their grandchildren. That massive loyalty and following in Malton and York is something we want to replicate in Bradford and Huddersfield.”
The company is clearly doing a lot right and Duncan stressed the importance of looking after customers they way we would want to be looked after.
He said the company’s success was down to trust, value for money and
extremely high levels of customer care. The fact that Ray Chapman Motors is a family business has also helped to give it the edge - they live a breath it
The Business has an omnichannel approach to sales. If customers want to buy from the company’s website they can, or they can visit a showroom, or do business over the phone.
“Huddersfield and Bradford open up a massive opportunity for us because of the sheer size of the population in West Yorkshire - and we believe the Volvo brand has a very bright. Earlier this year Volvo revealed two exciting new full electric vehicles – the EX30 and the EX90” Duncan said. The EX30 is Volvo’s smallest SUV and is competitively priced at just £33,500. Both of these models are available to order now.
Furthermore, we are delighted to be one of a handful of showrooms in the UK that will have this exciting new model available for viewing in the new Bradford showroom during the weekend of November 18 and 19. Viewings are by appointment only and can be booked directly by visiting the site