Benfield Motor Group

Benfield Motor Group is an independently owned family business founded in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1957. From modest beginnings, Benfield has become one of the largest and most well recognised private companies in the motor retailing market with a chain of franchised dealerships for new, used and commercial vehicles. Benfield is the highest placed North East based company on the latest Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250. The group has 34 retail outlets throughout the North of England and South West Scotland and employs over 1,500 people throughout their dealership network.

The Brief

As part of a business restructure, Benfield appointed NRG as their recruitment partner to fill several senior roles in sales and marketing. These placements were integral to the transformation of the business and included NRG’s Executive Search and Selection team to assist in the selection of an influential new Marketing Director. Benfield required an experienced marketeer to effectively lead and develop the Group’s marketing division and in turn maximise revenues and margins. As a member of the executive board and reporting directly to the Chief Executive, this individual would also help to grow and shape the business. Initially, this key executive would reinforce the Group’s commitment to modern marketing activity and business development. Subsequently, the new Marketing Director would be responsible for fully incorporating the marketing plan into Benfield’s long term vision.

The Approach

From the outset our work centred on understanding operations at Benfield and the Group’s strategy for the future. This helped to build a picture of the perfect candidate and refine a detailed job and person specification. Market mapping identified a number of challenges. As well as there being relatively few motor retail groups in the North, there were also only a small number of senior marketing candidates in the region from suitably large and complex organisations. Utilising our extensive and influential links across a range of relevant sectors, we carried out a national search to target candidates. This included a proactive search for passive candidates with the right skillset, motivations and cultural fit. Core executive search activity was supplemented by an extensive advertising campaign across key national media. Dedicated information packs and a co-branded microsite accompanied promotions. These products were tailored to the opportunity and provided candidates with useful insight up front as well as enabling an efficient interface with NRG. Our account-managed approach to recruitment provided Benfield with regular updates on progress and the challenges faced. Accountability, transparency and open dialogue inspired trust and confidence throughout.

The Result

Our rigorous interview and assessment process resulted in all positions being filled within two months. This included the appointment of Heike O’Leary as Group Marketing Director. Heike has extensive knowledge of branding and marketing, which is already helping to drive awareness of the Benfield brand and its dealership network. Heike’s previous roles included Brand Marketing Director at Adidas, Strategic Projects Manager for Callaway Golf and senior positions in marketing agencies where she was responsible for clients such as Nissan, Ford and Debenhams. Speaking about her appointment Heike said, “I’m absolutely delighted to be joining Benfield. From the initial telephone call to the final offer NRG played a major part in this process. The NRG consultant had an in-depth knowledge of Benfield’s company culture and the key drivers behind this appointment, as well as having real expertise in the local market. Joining Benfield has been an exceptional career move for me, which was fully supported by the highly professional search and recruitment process. I am really looking forward to developing world class retail marketing strategies for such a well respected brand, with a team of great colleagues.” Mark Squires, Chief Executive, Benfield Motor Group commented that “Our Marketing Director, Heike O’Leary, brings invaluable and undoubted in-house and agency brand marketing expertise to Benfield and we are delighted she has joined us at this time in our development.” All NRG appointees have made a significant contribution to the business; their skills, experience and capabilities have helped Benfield to drive forward towards overarching goals for the future.


Mark Squires commented, “These influential appointments were important for the Group’s progression. We are investing heavily in our consumer led strategies to improve our service and enhance the overall experience for our customers. Renewed focus in this area demonstrates our strategic intent to grow and develop our brand and marketing activities. We needed a recruitment partner that we trusted and a service which valued business insight as an integral part of every appointment. NRG’s consultants understood our market and provided us with the right fit of talent needed. NRG’s Consultants took the lead whilst providing us with feedback and transparent processes. NRG’s approach was professional and filled us with confidence.”