Tom Hagues investigates H.R. Owen Ecurie, the group’s new business supplying pre-Owned luxury performance cars of all marques
Ecurie is the French word for stable and is often associated with motor racing teams. Now, thanks to a new business based in Cheltenham that’s dedicated to the very best exotica from the world’s most desirable automotive brands, clients might soon find themselves in possession of an ecurie exceptionnel. The person tasked with leading this impressive facility is General Manager Stephan Plant – a man who has a knowledge of, and passion for, luxury motors coursing through his veins. This is matched with boundless enthusiasm for what H.R. Owen Ecurie can offer its clients.
Stephan began his career with Audi and BMW in 1996 and now sits at the head of both H.R. Owen Ecurie and the Aston Martin dealership next door.
H.R. Owen Ecurie fit into the luxury car market in a very special way. Finding luxury performance vehicles for exacting clients is a huge task, but with the outreach and experience of H.R. Owen behind the service, there’s a sense of confidence that anything can be achieved. There’s also the fact that Stephan won last year’s Sales Manager of the Year award – the venture is clearly in safe and capable hands.
As Stephan chats, his excitement for both the company’s new endeavour and extraordinary cars is apparent. “It’s exciting,” he says. “It’s not prescriptive in that there’s no manufacturer dictating what we can and can’t do. To put it simply, I am tasked with bringing together the finest collection of pre-owned performance and luxury cars to satisfy our UK and international customers – while some are bought to order, most will be bought to be displayed here in Cheltenham.”
While there are many Bentleys in the showroom, there’s an enticing mix of new acquisitions too. “The variety in the collection of cars is exciting, and I think that’s what it’s all about. Having a vehicle that’s slightly different and extremely desirable certainly gives you a buzz.” The showroom is evidence of this, with a Mercedes SLS and Lamborghini Gallardo Performante rubbing shoulders under the showroom lights.
Ecurie is based in the footprint left behind by Broughton’s Bentley dealership, which operated in Cheltenham from 1947 until H.R. Owen took it over in 2011. This has given the business a large number of regular clients who return time and again thanks to Stephan’s ambition to ensure it remained a perfect place to purchase a Bentley.
But with the departure of the Bentley brand, in terms of new car sales at least, a whole new avenue for H.R. Owen opened up, allowing Stephan to take the site, its fantastic facilities and enviable heritage in a different direction. “We wanted to achieve a one-stop shop for customers in and around this area,” he says.
“Our clients come here because they expect professionalism, honesty and a friendly atmosphere. We want people to be relaxed – if someone wants to pop in for a cup of coffee and a chat for an hour, then we welcome that,” Stephan says.
With music playing throughout the showroom, accompanied by the general buzz of chatter and laughter, it certainly feels incredibly welcoming. Stephan explains further: “It can be extremely daunting walking into a Lamborghini or Ferrari showroom, but if customers want to come here and show friends and family around, then we will welcome them. For example, we recently had a BMW Z3 coupe, a McLaren and Ferrari in one line up – the variety makes it an exciting place to be.”
Walking through some of the vehicles on display, Stephan explains the process of having a car sourced through H.R. Owen Ecurie. You might expect that most of the cars come through auctions, but Stephan says otherwise. “Because I’ve been in the motor trade for more than 20 years, I’ve got a significant number of personal contacts to get in touch with. There’s also the pull of the H.R. Owen brand, and we’ll always find cars through our website.”
Referrals are a helpful resource for Ecurie to tap into, with people passing on potential sellers to Stephan and there’s also the part-exchange pool. There are many ways that Ecurie can source cars, but having the H.R. Owen name attached to it helps greatly.