CAT retail lives: McGann’s Motor Spares, Northampton

McGann's prime location
McGann's prime location

McGann’s Motor Spares stands out by a mile on the high street. Maybe it’s the unforgettable A1 branding outside (McGann’s was a founding member of the group), maybe it’s the assorted stands and displays on the pavement, or maybe it’s the prime corner location.

Manager Phil Wilkinson and owner David McGann explain what makes McGann’s Motor Spares unique. “We get the whole family involved in coming to shop with us,” says David  “We find that not only do they come in for our bike and cycle ranges, they’ll go out with some car parts as well.

“Because the whole family gets involved, kids can come in and the family can come in, whereas if it was just a car store the kids can’t get involved.”

The shop is split onto two floors, with the extensive cycle department dominating the upper floor, while motor spares and accessories take prime position downstairs.

Walking around the shop floor it’s clear to see the diverse range of clientele. In one corner a – let’s call him a more mature gentleman – sorts intently through nuts and bolts, whilst at the far end a young female driver stares at the assorted range of audio equipment at the front of the shop.

However much a business tries to cling on to an ageing population, it’s clear to see that the group with the most spending power is the younger generation. McGann’s has targeted this market with gusto, aiming all sorts of In Car Entertainment products at this growing audience.

Manager Phil Wilkinson
Manager Phil Wilkinson

Phil says having a good proportion of younger sales staff is important to driving this section of the business. “Often the young sales staff will talk to the young customers outside of work too, if you’re in a pub and people recognise you from work, they’ll talk to you about what you sell and what you do.

“People will talk to the young lads who work here and in turn they come into the shop.”

However rosy business might seem from the outside, both Phil and David agree there’s a problem brewing in the retail aftermarket. They say that online sites that shift £150 products for £99 are killing their business. “The people who discount heavily online and who are quite happy to only make £1 [of profit] are devaluing the product.

“If you’ve got a stereo that sells at £150 and somewhere online is selling it for £99 it makes that product then look cheap. Suppliers need to stop giving products to those who are going to heavily discount. “

Phil’s call to end online discounting is somewhat shocking. Surely online discounts can only bring more business to your door? David disagrees, saying: “We keep the online prices the same as what we sell in the store because that’s the value of the product.”

Phil and David agree on the potential value of the Internet in driving sales, they also think the best way forward for retailers are the old-fashioned values of customer service and going the extra mile. Phil tells me about the store’s free fitting policy. “We’ve done the free fitting for a long time, because we sell the products and some people won’t be able to fit and secure them safely, so we offer that service to the customer. More and more customers are asking for it, and they keep coming back.”

The interior of McGann's
The interior of McGann's

Phil’s passionate comments about providing the best customer service possible are a testament to how much they believe in this industry. However much the public might complain about dying values like loyalty and service, it’s clear to see that in some places at least, those same values are still as strong for the new generation.

McGann’s Motor Spares – vital stats

MANAGER                       Phil Wilkinson

LOCATION                       Northampton

STAFF                                10

EST                                    1973

KEY SUPPLIERS            Carplan, Midbase, Ring


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Published by Darrenmoss

CAT magazine's in-house reporter and self-confessed petrol head

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