Euro Auctions permanent auction site in Leeds is Europe's largest permanent auction site for the sale of construction machinery, agricultural equipment, and industrial plant. The sale on 25th, 26th & 27th March was turned into the largest 'on-line' auction with the Euro Auctions team making the sale happen, as Covid-19 took its grip on the UK.
With close to 5,500 lots of construction machinery, agricultural equipment, and industrial plant on-site at Leeds and committed to the auction, and ready for sale, Euro Auctions had difficult choices to make with the UK Government shutting GB down as the Covid-19 virus took hold. With expectant consignors waiting for a sale, Euro Auctions had the choice of either re-patriating machinery 'un-sold' back to sellers globally causing greater havoc, leaving the lots for sale at the Leeds site for an indefinite period, or making the sale work. Consignors in Europe and around the globe send equipment to Euro Auctions, Leeds, on the six weeks run-up to the sale, and this was no exception. With the yard at Leeds, bulging at the seams, with consignors trusting Euro Auctions to gain best price for their kit.
The decision was made to proceed with the sale and make it work within the government guidelines for all countries. Working with the Euro Auctions team on-site in the UK a plan was devised to make the sale happen whilst ensuring the safety of all staff was maintained. After a full risk assessment of the situation by the Euro Auctions Health & Safety Officer, a safe working policy was formulated, which all staff adhered to during the build-up and during the sale itself. The wearing of PPE, hand washing, the wearing of protective gloves and masks, sanitising and the 2m distancing rule, was observed by the entire team, ensuring staff would be safe during the online sale. With a skeleton team of staff working around the clock, so began the preparation for the largest on-line auction, run over three days.
For this sale to work, Euro Auctions had to do things a little differently. The Euro Auctions team from the Leeds site, plus the local territory managers made up the team, the gates were locked, and the public were not invited, with all equipment to be sold being presented and sold online.
Over 2,500 video clips, of '30 second' duration, were made of all mobile equipment for sale, which were then uploaded to the Euro Auctions online sales platform. All videos were streamed online at the point of sale, to giving bidders the feel of a live auction, with the sale conducted in 'real time' by a team of 'live' auctioneers operating from the Yoder & Frey HQ in Ohio, USA. The 'glue' that bonded all the elements of the sale together was provided by the IT departments both in Leeds, and the company HQ in Dromore in Northern Ireland, who worked in shifts around the clock to upload all video and photos of all lots. And finally, the overall schedule was further altered to create a 4th day timed auction for new and used buckets, and smaller pieces of equipment, hand-tools and ancillary items.
This gave customers the same overall experience as being at the physical sale, with the video clip presenting the lot for sale as it would on the parade ramp, and the rhythmic chant of the auctioneers, even though they were on a different content, in a different time zone, providing the soundtrack for the sale. Bidders had confidence when bidding just as they would when buying at a live auction, seeing each lot for sale via pre-recorded video, and photographs, and against all the odds, the sale was a huge success. In all 5,480 lots were sold and when the hammer was down, under the circumstances, prices were very strong.
Jonnie Keys, Euro Auctions' Operations Manager comments "Customers sending equipment to any of our sales, at all of our permanent sites around the globe, trust us to sell that piece of equipment or machinery, and gain the best price we possibly can. In a time when more customers than ever put their trust in us to sell their equipment, Euro Auctions managed to perform, and I am sure many sellers were relying on Euro Auctions to turn iron into cash, with the funds from this sale helping to keep their businesses afloat across the UK and Europe. With the £ weak against the Euro, €1.04, European buyers were evident at this sale. Prices were as strong as the first Leeds sale of 2020 in January, with many lines of equipment peaking high, realising more value than had been achieved over the recent 6-12 months."
During the lead-up to the sale, Euro Auctions worked hard to repatriate staff back to Norther Ireland, before the travel ban kicked in, flights were changed many times throughout the course of the week leading up to the sale, as airlines and travel companies cancelled routes daily, until on the first day of the sale. The onsite team were a local team and all that had to return were back in Northern Ireland were safely home and self-isolating along government guidelines.
All Euro Auctions sites are now closed to the public and measures introduced to protect yard teams which is being continually reviewed to ensure Euro Auctions safeguards employees health and safety. Euro Auctions is also facilitating working from home where possible as operating on a skeleton staff base to process payments to sellers who require the funds to maintain their businesses.