BCA Marketplace

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BCA Marketplace
Vehicle remarketing and logistics
FounderDavid Wickins
Key people
Avril Palmer-Baunack (Executive Chairman)
Tim Lampert
(Chief Financial Officer)
ProductsPhysical and online vehicle auctions
Revenue£2,431.5 million (2018)[1]
£87.6 million (2018)[1]
£57.0 million (2018)[1]
Number of employees
7,205 (2018)[1]

BCA Marketplace, formerly British Car Auctions, is a used vehicle marketplace. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange until it was acquired by TDR Capital in November 2019.


In 1946 Royal Navy officer David Wickins decided to sell his Riley Lynx tourer. Placing an advert in the local newspaper, he offered to sell the car to the first person who turned up at his mother's house in Farnham, Surrey with £200. Arriving home late, he found a crowd of eager buyers, and so auctioned the car off for £420.[2]

Wickins then rented a farmer's field at Frimley Bridges, now under junction 4 of the M3 motorway, and set up his first public auction.[2] The 14 cars auctioned sold for a total of £8,250. Wickins and one of his brothers immediately founded Southern Counties Car Auctions, which, after exiting the Royal Navy shortly afterwards, he expanded across the UK by selling surplus ex-British Army and Royal Air Force vehicles for the Ministry of Defence.[2]

Renamed "British Car Auctions", Wickins then expanded the company across Europe and the United States through acquisition. This included the purchase of the car auctions division of British conglomerate Hawley Goodall, owned by Michael Ashcroft. This proved to be the start of a lifelong friendship between Wickins and Ashcroft, and through his Bermuda and Belize based holdings in various banks, Ashcroft would finance a number of Wickins' later business ventures.[3]

The company had head offices at the Frimley Bridges site, but later moved to purpose-built premises at Blackbushe Airport, Yateley to accommodate the now closed aviation division, which it still occupies.[2] Employing 160 at its head office, Wickins built the company into the largest car auction business in the world before retiring in 1990.[2] A near-scratch golfer, through this and his long association with the Conservative Party, Wickins met and befriended Denis Thatcher.[2] Wickins later agreed to sponsor Mark Thatcher's motor racing activities in the 1980s through BCA.[2] Denis Thatcher later served on one of Wickins' company boards, while Mark Thatcher served as chairman of Lotus Cars and later BCA in North America, which Wickins had led from near-bankruptcy to survival.[2]

In the late 1980s, Belize-based Hawley Goodall had undertaken a reverse takeover of ADT Security Services, and renamed itself ADT.[4] As a result of its focus on security systems, ADT sold the North American and European arms of BCA in separate deals. While the residual North American arm was broken-up and sold to trade buyers, the European arm was acquired by a consortium of some 40 private investors, including Lord Ashcroft via his Belize-based investment company, in 1995.[5] In September 2006, the European arm was bought by the investment banking arm of private bank Samuel Montagu & Co., a division of HSBC.[5]

In February 2010, BCA was acquired by the private equity investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.[6] Then in March 2015 Haversham Holdings, an investment business, undertook a reverse takeover of BCA and renamed itself BCA Marketplace.[7]

The company was acquired by TDR Capital in November 2019.[8]


BCA Belle Vue in Manchester

The company operates the largest vehicle auction site in Europe and auctions over 50% of all cars sold by auction in the UK.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2018" (PDF). BCA Marketplace. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Auctions magnate began by selling just one old car". GetHampshire.co.uk. 13 February 2007. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  3. ^ Andy McSmith and Ben Laurance (16 January 2000). "Ashcroft's Lotus position". The Observer. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  4. ^ "The Ashcroft Affair: Offshore tycoon with a mean streak who makes the Tory party nervous". The Independent. 14 July 1999. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Ashcroft in For BCA Cash Windfall". Sky News. 20 September 2006. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  6. ^ "BCA sold to US private equity company". AM Online. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  7. ^ "British Car Auctions bought by Haversham Holdings". AM Online. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Marwyn Value To Get GBP65 Million From BCA Marketplace Takeover". Morning Star. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  9. ^ "BCA Marketplace announces £1.2bn sales". FT. 28 June 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2017.

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