Maven Capital Partners and NVM Private Equity have made a joint GBP5 million investment in Rockar, a technology-based motor retailer.
The investment, which is split equally between Maven and NVM, will enable Rockar to partner with more major automotive manufacturers following its initial success with Hyundai, launch more digital stores in high footfall shopping centres and continue to develop its technology platform.
Rockar was established in 2012 with the aim of revolutionising the car buying experience. The result is a disruptive new retail proposition where customers have access to all the services of a traditional dealership online, or at one of Rockar’s digital stores.
The store design lets the customer browse the vehicles as they wish and is supported by pioneering in-store digital content which provides information about the cars and helps explain the purchasing process. In-store commissioned sales staff have been replaced by ‘Angels’, who are simply there to help. The stores have created a convenient place for customers to view cars at their leisure without the pressure to buy.
Rockar has also developed an online solution which helps car manufacturers digitalise their traditional route to market. The car market is one of the few not to have fully embraced online retailing to date. While consumers will typically undertake significant research online as part of the buying process, there is still the requirement to visit the physical showroom to negotiate a deal and complete the purchase. Rockar’s ‘Buy Button’ technology enables the consumer to complete the entire purchase online, including options for part-exchange and finance.
The latest fundraising follows a GBP1 million investment from Seneca Partners EIS funds in November 2014 which saw Rockar launch its first two digital stores in the Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent and the Westfield Shopping Centre, East London.
The Rockar team is led by Simon Dixon who has significant experience in the car industry, having helped build the Dixon Motor Group for 20 years, before selling it to RBS in 2002 for GBP110 million.
Dixon says: “Following on from the success we have achieved to date, which has seen over half a million people visit our ground-breaking stores and experience our unique online retail platform, this investment is the latest endorsement of the Rockar proposition.
“From the outset we have aimed to revolutionise the car-buying experience. Customers have proven the appetite for our service and now we have car manufacturers actively seeking to partner with Rockar to help them build their online retail presence, so it’s great to bring on board Maven and NVM alongside Seneca to help develop this offering. All three investors share the same vision for our business and will help us deliver the service to a range of other leading car brands in the coming months.
“Seneca has proven to be a critical partner for Rockar, backing us at the outset with the first round investment and now their corporate finance team have done a great job unlocking this additional funding. We look forward to continuing the success with our new investors.”
Ryan Bevington, investment director at Maven, adds: “Maven is a proud backer of innovative British businesses and Rockar’s management team has achieved impressive results in a relatively short period of time. The car industry is one of the few remaining retail sectors that has not yet embraced e-commerce or adapted to changing consumer trends. As a disruptor, Rockar is successfully challenging the traditional route to market and creating a compelling solution for modern consumer habits.”
Liam May, lead investment manager at NVM, says: “In its short history Rockar has already demonstrated remarkable growth, and is leading the way in innovation in the automotive retail sector. NVM has an outstanding track record of backing successful software technology businesses and we believe Simon and his team have developed a unique, disruptive solution which is well placed to take advantage of changing automotive retail strategies.”