NVM Private Equity LLP invest in Rockar

The investment will enable Rockar to partner with more major automotive manufacturers following its initial success with Hyundai – launching  more digital stores in high footfall shopping centres and continuing to develop its innovative technology platform.

Rockar was established in 2012 and has re-invented the car buying experience, evolving from a concept in 2012 to a recognised leader in new car digital sales and marketing today.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.

This unique and engaging 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 In-store commissioned sales staff have been replaced by ‘Angels’, who are simply there to help.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 £1 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 PLC for 20 years, before selling it to RBS in 2002 for £110 million.

Liam May, lead Investment Manager at NVM commented on the transaction, “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.”

Simon Dixon, Chairman at Rockar, said: “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.”

Principals and key advisors to the transaction

NVM were provided with

  • Legal advice by Jeremy Thompson at Squire Patton Boggs.
  • Financial due diligence by Jeff Gardner and Rob McCarthy of Dow Schofield Watts.
  • Commercial due diligence by Geoff Rampton and Roger Penney of RPL.
  • Management due diligence by Tim Worrall of Avalon Management Consulting.
  • Technology due diligence by Andy Gardner, Douglas Eadie and Iain Mackay of Intuitus.
  • Insurance due diligence by John Donald and Gordon Shaw of Aon.

Rockar was advised on the fundraising by Andrew Stubbs, Chris Bullough and Gordon Lane of Seneca Partners Corporate Finance, with legal advice provided by Jonathan Gillow of Hill Dickinson.



Download photos of: Simon Dixon and generalRockar images here – www.nvm.co.uk/PRphotos

For further information please contact:

Natalie Dickinson (NVM: PR & Marketing) – 0118 951 7021 natalie.dickinson@nvm.co.uk
Liam May (NVM: Investment Manager) – 0161 935 8081 liam.may@nvm.co.uk
Simon Dixon (ROCKAR: Chairman) – 0330 200 0330 simon@rockar.com

NVM Private Equity is independently owned with over 30 years’ experience of investing in unquoted UK businesses.  NVM is a generalist investor, managing over £260 million of funds, and is differentiated by having executives living and working in regional business communities throughout the UK.  NVM seeks investment opportunities of between £2 million and £12 million in UK businesses which have the right mix of growth potential and market vision. They may be looking to grow organically, acquire another business or secure a management buy-out. www.nvm.co.uk

About Rockar – Simon Dixon, founder of Rockar, spent 20 years building the UK’s 3rd largest car retail group Dixon Motors PLC.  Since selling the company to RBS in 2004, Simon has experienced the car buying process from the other side of the fence.

It was his frustration with the current car buying experience, or lack of it, that lead him to create Rockar, a truly customer focused buying experience.  Rockar had to be a game changer, challenging the traditional car buying process.

In January 2012 he pulled together a small team of key people that shared the same frustrations.  Together they started the exciting process of building a new way to buy cars, entirely from a customer’s point of view.

Extensive research was undertaken and we sought key partnerships with experts in the user experience to help guide the process.  In the same way that Apple revolutionised technology, Rockar’s aim is to completely revolutionise the way in which cars are bought today.

A new and comprehensive digital platform needed to be built in order that the Rockar experience could be brought to life.  Today our website is a world first (people often say that – but it actually is!) empowering the customer to be completely in charge every step of the way.  Search, sell your old car, choose a finance option to suit you, build your new car and track delivery every step of the way – all without speaking to a sales person, it’s that simple.

Accessibility was the next challenge, the Rockar team wanted a convenient place for customers to view cars at their leisure and allow an easy and relaxed test drive experience, something we call YouDrive.

This naturally led us to the major shopping centres in the UK, where millions of car driving customers visit every year.  A unique and engaging store design lets the customer browse as they wish with some fantastic digital content to help explain the journey ahead.

In store we have our Rockar Angels, who are car product super brains and certainly not sales people.  Chosen on personality, they know all about the new cars on display – no jargon.  Rockar Angels won’t make it all about the sale, they are just simply there to help and if you need them to they are more than happy to book YouDrive or arrange a service on your behalf.

The Rockar DNA is built on continuously challenging and improving the way we do things, the key people to help us are our customers now and in the future.

Rockars next step is to enable the industry to join the revolution by sharing access to its digital platform.  www.rockar.com