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National Careers Week – Regional Directors

For National Careers Week, we asked our Regional Directors what do they like most about their roles and what advice would they give to the younger generations looking to join the retail automotive sector. We have collated their responses in the article below. 


Graham Knell - Regional Director - Kent

Graham Knell - Regional Director - Kent

My original career started after leaving school at the age of 17. I was initially working on a petrol forecourt, where I progressed to selling motorcycles. Then at the age of 21, I became a junior car salesperson for a second-hand car dealership, moving on to a franchise, Datsun, selling Datsun cars and then onto Volvo. I joined Perrys in 1987 as a Sales Executive for Mercedes Benz. Perrys back then were in the process of setting up a new specialist car division and had taken the Volvo franchise on in Canterbury, where I joined as Sales Manager. It was a new venture, and we had seven members of staff in total at that time.

Six months into the role, the dealer principal left, and I was asked to step up to the role, which I declined because this was my first Sales Manager role, and I felt like I needed more time. They couldn’t find a suitable replacement for the dealer principal, so they re-approached me, and I agreed to take on the role in the interim, provided I was given full autonomy to make any required changes. I have never looked back since I took the role permanently six months later and grew the branch to one of the area's top Volvo ones. The group then wanted further expansion, so we relocated Volvo into Canterbury city centre and took on the Vauxhall franchise as well.

We then started to grow the Vauxhall brands – below is our Kent ‘tree’ with the acquisitions.


Perrys dealership evolution along the years




Until the acquisition of Sittingbourne in 2013, I ran all four branches as Regional Director. Then I took on the responsibility of the Buckingham region, which was then effectively the South of England, responsible for 11 businesses and ten franchises. In 2015, I was promoted to Sales Director for the group, which focused on liaising with the manufacturers and driving the unit sales, F&I, sales process and best practices across the group. The group expanded with another acquisition shortly after in 2016, at which point the group was restructured, and I am now running the Kent Region, which currently consists of four Vauxhall sites, two Mazda sites, and one Ford.

The things I liked most about my career with Perrys are that they have allowed me to use my entrepreneurial skills, giving me lots of autonomy and broadening my outlook on car sales and all the intricacies that went along with that, especially the people development. As I have grown my career, many members of staff have grown at the same time, and being exposed to getting involved in the building of new dealerships and acquisitions has made it a very varied, engaging, and challenging role.

To someone thinking about a career in the retail automotive sector, I would say that it can be an enjoyable and rewarding opportunity, especially as we transition with EV, provided that you are an honest, hard-working and driven individual with good attention to detail.

Neil Hodgson - Regional Director - East Midlands

Neil Hodgson - Regional Director - East Midlands

I joined Perrys in April 2010 as a General Manager at Worksop (for Ford and KIA). In February 2018, I became General Manager at Chesterfield (for the Ford Store and Transit Centre), and later on, since June 2021, I was stepped up to Regional Director for East Midlands (covering Ford, Kia and Mazda franchises).

I originally joined Perrys as my manager from a previous company approached me to join, and I was ready for the challenge.

I have been lucky to have two very different mentors as line managers who have known how to manage, motivate and develop me, skills which I have then been able to apply at the sites I have worked at.  I have enjoyed working with my teams, guiding, developing and encouraging them to work as a cohesive and driven team, which in turn has proven to grow the business organically with incremental profit gains over a sustained period of time.

To those thinking about a career in the retail automotive sector, I would say that you don’t have to follow a traditional sales-based career path to progress in the motor trade. I have found, if you listen and learn from the more experienced people above and around you, this is a great starting point.  If you are then capable of harvesting and retaining all of that and are motivated to apply it with a dose of hard work, there is nothing stopping you from building a successful career in the retail automotive sector, irrespective of where you start from, as everyone has to start from somewhere.

Jeff Hocking - Regional Director - North West

Jeff Hocking - Regional Director - North West

I worked for Booran Motor Group, JCH Motor Group and Pendragon before joining Perrys in November 2020 as a Regional Director. My career started in 1989 as an automotive trainee, and I have worked in a great variety of roles since, from Sales Executive, working my way up to the career ladder and reaching a directorial level.

I chose to work for Perrys as, after previously owning my own dealership in Australia and subsequently moving to the UK and working for a Public Limited Company, Perrys was the perfect blend of both a National Dealer Group and a Family-Owned Business.

What I love most about Perrys is that it’s a very dynamic and fast-paced business where no two days are the same. I also enjoy working with the team to improve the performance of the sites, as well as the ability to contribute to the group objectives.

To those thinking about a career in the retail automotive sector, I would say that the Automotive business has many different roles and opportunities for one to grow and develop, both personally and professionally. Having started at the bottom, I can say that it’s one of the few industries where you can work your way up and continuously learn and grow. If you are willing to succeed and invest the time and effort into achieving your goals, then anything is possible. Respect is earned and not given.

Nick Beevis - Regional Director - Buckinghamshire

Nick Beevis - Regional Director - Buckinghamshire

My connection with Perrys started back in 1985 when my father joined the group; as a family, in 1988, we moved to Milton Keynes as he was working at the MK site, but we were initially living in Kent. I have memories of going to the dealership, waiting for him to finish work and for him to give me a lift home, speaking to all of the members of staff and grabbing a lovely hot chocolate from the machine. Perrys was a big part of my life growing up.

My own connection started in May 1998 when I joined the company working in the accounts department. I enjoyed working at Perrys but found myself constantly looking at the Sales departments and wondering what it would be like to work in those departments.

In late 2000 I moved to the New Car Sales department as a Sales Executive, where I stayed until 2003.

In 2003 I moved to the Commercial and Fleet department as a Sales Executive as I wanted more of my weekends to continue playing football locally.

In 2007 an opportunity arose to move back to the New Car Sales department as a Retail Manager – I absolutely loved this role - every day I came into work and I had one thing on my mind: How can we sell some cars today and I loved the fact I could help influence Sales Executives performance.

In 2010 I moved sites to Aylesbury to become the New Car Sales Manager for Ford & Seat, where I stayed until June 2014.

In 2014 I joined High Wycombe as the site's Branch Manager. This was my first opportunity overseeing a dealership and what a dealership it was. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by many loyal members of staff who made me feel at home straight away.

In June 2015 I was given the opportunity to return to Aylesbury as the General Manager of the Multi-Franchise site, which has always been my aspiration. I held this position until March 2022 when I moved to my current role of Regional Director for Buckinghamshire.

I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, the opportunity came up for me to start working at Perrys and I just felt at home. I knew some of the staff already and I found the varied roles I was completing in the accounts department were fun. As a young adult starting life in a full-time working environment, I honestly believe I couldn’t have picked a better place to work.

What I’ve enjoyed the most about working at Perrys is that every day is different. I’ve always enjoyed the sales environment where I am able to talk and help customers with their requirements, and then, as I moved in my career, the ability to help, support and grow employees within the business.

To someone thinking about a career in the retail automotive sector, I would say: Join now! It’s a wonderful sector which gives you some fantastic opportunities. If you are hardworking and looking for a career then joining the retail automotive sector and Perrys would be a perfect fit. There are many opportunities for promotion to anyone who is prepared to put the effort in and is consistent. Many people at Perrys have worked their way through different roles and have spent many years with the group. None bigger so than our Managing Director!

John Vilums - Regional Director - Yorkshire

John Vilums - Regional Director - Yorkshire

I started working for Perrys in January 2013 as a General Manager for Doncaster. It was a big role and a big site that had to go through some changes initially, but we got it into a successful position. Then, in 2015, I had the honour of being voted General Manager of the Year at the AM Awards. This was when People First was being launched and I was a firm supporter and believer in it. This was when Darren Ardron (our Managing Director ndr.) was promoted, and I was offered the position of Regional Director. I was initially looking after the whole North, then spent a few years looking after the North West. Subsequently, following the retirement of the Regional Director of Yorkshire back then, I took over the Yorkshire region, as it was closer to home. We had a good few years and I’m hoping this will be our record year!

I choose to work for Perrys as when I left the company I was previously working for; someone put me in touch with Darren, I liked him as a person; however, I also strongly aligned with Perrys' values.

In my roles at Perrys, I have always liked the diversity they offer; no two days are the same. I really enjoy the franchise mix I work with, but I also really like the people, as they are all hard-working. Of course, I also love it when things go well and when people get recognition for a job well done. Lastly, another element I enjoy is the planning that my role involves.

To someone thinking about a career in the retail automotive sector I would say not to let anyone hold you back and always aim for your dreams. I still remember my very first day of work as a technician in a garage, walking down my street with a tin box and a blue overall. You will find that careers change, but don’t be frightened to go a different route from the one you had initially planned, embrace change and adapt with time. The Motor Trade is a great sector that offers lots of variety and now is a great time to join.

Written by Perrys Regional Directors | 10 min read
04 Mar 2024