The Big Motoring World Story: Our History
Big Motoring World, one of the UK’s largest car supermarkets. A car supermarket that stocks over 3500 cars from a vast number of manufacturers and features a team that's made up by over 300 members of staff. Big Motoring World is more than just a used car retailing business, it is a story of dedication, hard work and passion.
Big Motoring World is a major name on the automotive stage. A multiple award-winning business that most recently saw it crowned Car Supermarket of the Year and the recent Used Car Awards. It is also rated as a UK Motor Trader Top 10 Dealer, however the Big Motoring World that you know today came from humble beginnings and it’s a testament to the hard work, unwavering dedication and vision of its founder Peter Waddell that has made it what it is today.
The Big Motoring World story started way back in 1986. Cast your mind back, the 1980s was a decade that was led by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher whilst VHS and Betamax fought it out for overall video honours and Michael Jackson became a musical icon. It was during this time that our owner Peter Waddel ventured into car sales.
Peter initially started trading his vehicles from his home before purchasing his first premises. The first of many dealerships, Peter purchased Teynham Trade Centre. Next door was a hairdresser with a flat located above in which Peter would move to with his young family. He would go on to use his garage as workshop facilities whilst the showroom and forecourt at Teynham would have just under 20 cars on display, humble beginnings for what Big Motoring World was to become.
The dawn of a new decade and fast forward 11 years to 1997 and the first major expansion in Big Motoring Worlds history occurred. Acquiring a location in Bapchild, Sittingbourne, Kent this new location traded under the moniker of Bap Child Motoring World and included a showroom and for the first time, dedicated workshop facilities to the rear of the premises. This new dealership saw the lead to specialising in BMW vehicles and this site had the capacity for around 60 cars to be placed on display. The move into this location also saw staffing numbers grow. The Bapchild location was manned by a ten-person team.
In the new millennium, an additional site was added to Peter’s growing portfolio. 2001 saw the opening of Folkstone Motoring Centre. This new location added a further 25 vehicles to the groups stock and grew the overall team by an additional three members of staff.
Just a year later, Peter was to add another site to the business. This new location was to instantly become the groups second largest and had major capacity. Trading under the name of Teynham Motoring Centre the opening of this dealership took the business back to the area where it all began 16 years earlier. This new location had a capacity for a further 45 cars and seven new members of staff. In just a few short years group stock capacity had risen to over 130 vehicles.
2004 is arguably the watershed moment in Big Motoring Worlds history and set the company on a course for what it is today. It was during this year that Peter took the decision to consolidate all of his dealerships into one site in West Malling, Kent. This new facility saw a stock capacity of 150 cars with 15 members of staff employed. The new locations name? Big Motoring World.
Over the course of the next four years, Peter Waddell set the business on the ambitious course of becoming the largest independent BMW dealership in the country. To achieve this, further land was acquired around the West Malling site and by the close of 2008, Big Motoring World stocked 350 vehicles. But this wasn’t to be the end, 2011 saw Peter’s vision become a reality as the West Malling facility earned the status the UK's Largest BMW Independent Dealer and employed over 100 people.
Despite a period of financial instability in the economy off the back of the recent financial crisis, Peter pressed on with the companies impressive strategy for growth and in 2013 this business opened its state of the art collection centre in Snodland, Kent. This new facility also incorporated brand new workshop facilities which allowed for additional space to be created at West Malling.
2018 witnessed the opening of the state of the art Blue Bell Hill facility. A 21-acre site, this new location became the group's flagships dealership with a brand new showroom for customers to enjoy and a forecourt that holds well over 1000 vehicles.
With 2018 to be a major moment in Big Motoring Worlds history, it was just the start of further growth throughout this year. 2019 has been another milestone year for the group and as a result, Big Motoring World has seen growth like never before in the group’s history. Despite economic uncertainty, Peter and Big Motoring World have invested heavily into the future of the brand with new dealerships and a dedicated preparation centre entering the fray.
Opening in August of this year the 170,000 sq ft National Preparation Centre is equipped with a full production line, which includes more than 70 ramps for maintenance work and pre-delivery inspections to be carried out and 15 MOT bays.
In addition to the preparation centre, a retail site in London Stratford has joined the group’s portfolio. Located next door to the London 2012 Olympic site, this new retail centre brings the Big Motoring World name to the nation’s capital for the first time and adds a further selection of vehicles to group stock.
As a result of this impressive expansion, Big Motoring World finds itself wrapping up the year by being ranked 126th on the highly prestigious Sunday Times Grant Thornton Fast Track 250.
Heading into 2020, Big Motoring Worlds growth shows no signs of relenting. A new location in Enfield is already confirmed. This location will join the existing dealerships and promises to be the first of several new centres to be opened in 2020 in yet to be disclosed locations.
Currently, Peter Waddell’s business includes 300 members of staff and over 3500 vehicles in group stock. It’s a testament to the vision and hard work of the businesses founder, Peter Waddell that has seen Big Motoring World reach the scale that it is today.
With ambitious plans for additional growth well advanced, just how big, Big Motoring World will become in future is an exciting prospect.
This article first appeared in March 2019 and has been updated.