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AM News Show: Swansway director ‘frightened to death’ by cyberattack threat

Swansway Group director Peter Smyth has revealed that the AM100 car retail group has committed £5 million to upgrade its IT systems after admitting he was “frightened to death” by the threat of a cyberattack.

Speaking to AM managing editor Tom Sharpe and Marketing Delivery chief executive Jeremy Evans in the latest episode of the AM News Show Podcast series, Smyth said the group had committed the sum after calling in experts to assess its vulnerabilities six months ago.

Smyth said he and fellow directors John and David Smyth were “shocked” at their verdict, adding that the business had now committed to “spending over £5 million over the next five years on upgrading our IT”.

“For those people who have been attacked, I feel desperately sorry for them”, Smyth said. “It’s very, very difficult. I just feel that you’ve got to do the best you can.”

The latest edition of AM magazine explores the threat of cyberattacks on the car retail sector, with an exclusive interview with Pendragon chief marketing officer Kim Costello about its rubuffal of a hacking ring’s $60 million (£52m) dollar ransom demand – believed to be the largest ever made of a private company – and accounts of the recent attack on Arnold Clark.

Smyth said: “There but for the grace of God go any of us. If can happen to the mighty Arnold Clark it can happen to any of us.”

Swansway director Peter Smyth (right) and Marketing Delivery CEO Jeremy Evans on the AM News ShowAlso in the latest episode of the AM News Show podcast, Smyth and Evans discuss their routes into the automotive sector and how the market’s supply issues, its transition to electric vehicles (EV) and agency model retail is progressing.

While Evans expresses a need for retailers to better communicate with customers over a zero-emissions future, Smyth talked about the impact of various challenges on his Crewe-based car retail group, suggesting that agency will cut its profits by 40% in the coming years.

He also admits that his initial appraisal of Elon Musk’s chances of making Tesla of success was: “This guy’s not got a chance.”

AM’s monthly News Show podcast is produced in partnership with Armchair Marketing.

Recent episodes include interviews with RJTK managing director Darren Bradford, former Inchcape CEO James Brearley, RSM head of automotive Alison Ashley; Waylands Automotive CEO John O’Hanlon and Auto Trader commercial director Ian Plummer.

A full archive of shows can be viewed here.

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