GMAP has added further skills to its experienced automotive team with the appointment of Dr Mark Whitton as Automotive Business Development Director.

Dr Whitton has over twenty years of experience in market analysis and a dozen in the automotive sector. He has been responsible for pioneering the development of advanced market intelligence solutions for new car sales, used car and commercial vehicle applications. Dr Whitton's previous experience for clients, such as Ford Direct, will be central to a new market initiative by GMAP to improve the used car intelligence available to dealerships.

"Used car sales are the most profitable for any dealership, yet the quality of market information to dealers would be unacceptable in virtually every other retail sector", commented Professor Martin Clarke, Principal Consultant at GMAP. "The information they do get is mostly based on manufacturers' territory definitions, which don't reflect where all of their sales are really coming from".

"There is a clear opportunity to help used car dealers really understand their local markets and to tune their stock, sales and marketing activities appropriately", said Dr Whitton. "GMAP has an outstanding track record of delivering analysis to automotive manufacturers and dealers which creates competitive advantage, and I am delighted to be part of that team. In the arena of used cars there is a clear link between better information and improved profitability".

Ten years ago, dealers sold 0.8 used cars to each new car. Now they sell 3 used cars per new car. According to the BCA Used Car Market Report 2003, 6.6 million used cars were sold in the UK, at a value of £28.1 billion. The figures are similar in other European markets, with 6.8 million used cars sold in Germany last year.

Dr Whitton's career in the automotive industry has focused on turning market information into actionable intelligence, so that manufacturers and dealers can improve their commercial performance. In 2001 he started work with Ford Direct to plan its Supersite network and helped the first site, the Peoples Group site at Prescot, Liverpool, to organise its stocking policy, sales and marketing. This work was the basis of the Group winning two major industry awards in 2003 - the Automotive Management Used Car Retailer of the Year and the Marketing Award.

Since then, Dr Whitton has worked with another manufacturer to design a new solution, suitable for the post-Block Exemption world, that allows it to set sales objectives on the basis of carefully defined local markets. By creating a "distance decay model", they were able to determine the influence of each dealership from which sales could be anticipated.

Dr Whitton has a PHD in Geographic Analysis from the University of Durham.

GMAP has undertaken network planning and market intelligence work for a range of automotive clients, including Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda and Volvo.