Co-operative Societies and the Motor Industry
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The C.W.S. Projected Entry into the Car Industry May be a Preliminary to Competition with Hauliers : An Appeal for a Stand to be Made Against Such a Move
By E. B. Howes,
Managing Director, A. Saunders and Son (Harpenden), Ltd., and Chairman, Hauliers Mutual Federation.
THE Co-operative Societies, according to a recent
announcement in.,," The Daily Sketch," are planning to enter the retail car distribution market. The statement was made that a motor sales manager has already been appointed to the C.W.S. Arrangements for the opening' of motorshowrooms as annexes to their mote. important branches throughout Great Britain are now being contemplated. If this be true, it must be causing serious apprehension throughout the whole of the motor industry—sales, service, and, users alike. It foreshadows a potential threat to our own industry, for it is not a long step from selling cars to selling commercial motor vehicles, and a shorter one to conveying goods and passengers for reward.,-
The selling schetue must also present a difficult problem for vehicle manufacturers to solve. Obviously, the first reaction of distributors and retail salesmen must be to raise the question of price-cutting.
In this connection it was pointed out in the course of the daily Press announcement that a dividend of Is. 6d. in the pound on a £400 vehicle would mean a dividend rebate; i.e., a cut in the list price of £30. What will the M.T.A. do about that? It seems to me that they can do no other than put the "Co-op." on the stop list. If the manufacturers accept that ruling, the Society will be unable to obtain any vehicles to sell.
In my opinion that is precisely the course which should be followed, As chairman of the Hauliers Mutual Federation, which is affiliated to the Council of Retail Distributors, I -take strong objection to the Co-operative Societies as they are at present conducted. They form a mon000ly, and it is the view of the Council of Retail Distributors that monopolies are inimical to the best interests of this country. No one can deny that the Societies do constitute a monopoly', and in commencing 'to take part in this new department of industry they are spreading and increasing their monopoly hold. It is to be expected, furthermore, that, overtly or otherwise, in public or in secret, the Societies will have Government support. It cannot be otherwise, for the " Co-bps." have given the Labour Party fihancial backing, and he who pays the piper is entitled to call the tune.
This question arises, too. Where will this monopoly end? Is there any limit to the aspirations of this monopolistic body? In this connection it is not irrelevant to point out that Mr. A. V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, is, or was, the head of the Co-operative movement. May we expect that the "Co-op." will shortly be building battleships, or taking an active part in the organization and conduct of the Royal Navy? As regards the potential threat to the road haulage industry; supposing that the "Co-ops." be allowed to go to such lengths, a piquant situation is likely to arise, icr the Labour Government, in considering whether or not to nationalize the road industry, will be faced with the fact that if it does it will be attacking smile of its principal supporters. Personally, I propose, directlythrough .the Hauliers Mutual Federation, and thus through the Council of Retail Distributors, to take all possible action to stem this Lew development, to prevent the growth of this new tentacle of the" Co-op." octopus, and I appeal, through your columns, for the support of all interested parties.
[It will be rethembered by many of our readers that at one time there was a goods motor vehicle known as the Bell— product of the C.W.S.—ED.1