A recruitment drive by Car & Classic that will see its team double to 120 members over the next year highlights the breadth of new skills needed in the classic sector. With eight current vacancies spread across technology, marketing, sales and support roles, Europe’s largest classic and specialist vehicle marketplace is seeking expertise both in the UK and internationally.
Backed up by the HCVA, (Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance), of which Car & Classic is a Founding Member, it is keen to explain that roles in the sector aren’t just in workshops but span marketing, finance, legal, sales and creative skills, for a sector that continues to grow. Indeed, according to the FBHVC’s latest report (2020), spend on historic vehicles has increased by over 30 per cent, from £5.5Bn to £7.2Bn in the last five years.
Car & Classic’s online marketplace has grown significantly over the past three years and, in particular, its innovative online auction has found homes for hundreds of classic and collectible vehicles – all transacted exclusively through Escrow. The growth is underpinned by its enthusiastic young team, which is set to expand in order to cope with new opportunities. The average age across its 60 staff is 36 with a third of them under 30. A recent discussion between the HCVA in the UK and its French contacts in the same sector found that the average age of owners and enthusiasts has reduced from 58 to 54, due to the adoption of classic cars by younger generations.
“Contrary to popular misconception that the classic car industry fails to attract young people, Car & Classic’s technology, fast pace and passionate commitment to match classic vehicles to their ideal owners online is attracting young talent alongside experienced industry colleagues,” says Car & Classic CEO Tom Wood. “We are constantly on the lookout for more team members. From a team of ten, 18 months ago, we are now at 60 and continuing to grow fast.”
“Marketing, Finance, Sales, Legal, Strategic Planning and Customer Support opportunities have risen out of our expansion, and not only in the UK but also in Europe to keep up with the increased demand and interest in the online auction site and marketplace,” adds Wood.
Recently, Car & Classic has appointed two new marketing assistants, who join a team of seven, and is still recruiting for three software engineer roles, legal counsel, product managers and – in line with the company’s international expansion – multi-lingual negotiators. A career page can be found here: https://careers.carandclassic.com
“It’s not just Car & Classic attracting young people,” says Merlin McCormack of Duke of London, one of Car & Classic’s regular dealers. “We, too, have reported an increase in interest from school leavers and newly graduated people entering the industry. It is rewarding to see ‘fresh blood’ being injected in a segment traditionally concerned with finding new generations to pass existing knowledge to.”
Duke of London merges traditional Classic Car services like Sales, Service & Restoration with a thriving social media community and a creative hub where influencers, events and creatives come together. It is a field in which young people move comfortably, bringing a traditional business to modern platforms. “Over time we’ve added other aspects to our business, like an automotive-inspired wine bar, coffee shop, an onsite pizzeria and more,” he adds.
Merlin and his team demonstrate how the classic car industry is changing: on-site events like Classics & Cake and off-site events like Duke’s Hllclimb, held at Shelsley Walsh, show that passion for classic motoring is still alive and well, and being brought forward into the modern age via Instagram and other social media.
It is not all about meeting places and keeping the industry alive through the use of social media, of course. “Generation Y and Z (born 1981-2012) are tech-savvy and masters of communication,” continues Wood. “They bring their own expertise, appreciation and comfort in working with virtual teams, and modern entrepreneurship. We offer the ideal environment in which a traditional industry and young minds can benefit from the interaction.”
These are feelings shared by HCVA Founding Partner and Pendine CEO James Mitchell: “We have an enthusiastic young team that is learning daily more about each of the magnificent vehicles we buy and sell on behalf of our customers and a real asset to the sector, the vehicles and customers and our business.”
As HCVA Chief Executive Officer Garry Wilson states: “The skills in the sector don’t stop at the crafts. Developing young enthusiasts across the spectrum is key as selling, maintaining, storing, insuring, financing and more around these vehicles is substantially enabled by the enthusiastic worker. Understanding the history of a marque and therefore the provenance of a vehicle is key when it comes to insuring, financing and selling it, so once again it needs knowledgeable young folks to carry the baton forward.”
Emma Crickmay of Frank Dale & Stepsons, one of HCVA’s Founding Partners, could not have put it better: “It is absolutely vital we take steps to preserve jobs and encourage new generations into pursuing fulfilling careers in our industry. It is so important that conditions are created that allow us to develop training programmes, support skills transfer and boost diversity. We are very keen to see a boost in apprenticeships – it’s investment in the future.
“There is a passion, enthusiasm and devotion to the craftsmanship, materials and traditional skills of the individuals who work tirelessly restoring classic cars. These vital skills preserve historically and culturally important rolling pieces of mechanical artwork which educate and delight owners and enthusiasts, and light up a child’s face in wonder when they glide by. I’ve been that child and I’m now that enthusiast.”
A recent survey by the HERO-ERA organisation estimates that the turnover of the whole classic and historic vehicle sector is over £18Bn and supports 113,000 jobs. This constitutes about a fifth of the size of the whole heritage sector in the country.