Kingfisher Celebrates a Big Birthday
Managing Director Ian Fisher looks back on the last 25 Years
The Early Days
Kingfisher Systems began life in early 1988. The company was started by Jack Fisher from the office of his car showroom in the south side of Glasgow. Jack had been a car trader for over 20 years, developing an interest in computing and software in the early 1980s. One of his first customers was Intercity Motor Auctions who asked him to develop a management system for their motor auction business. Within a couple of years Jack had built up a small portfolio of customers including Hewden Stuart, Glasgow City Council and Arnold Clark.
The link up with Arnold Clark was to prove pivotal to the early success of the company. Jack developed a parts analysis tool called M.A.P.S. which linked into the Arnold Clark dealer management system. The product was seen by representatives of Unipart International who commissioned Kingfisher to develop a similar solution which was to become known as AutoAtom. At its peak AutoAtom was installed in more than 100 sites throughout the UK. The product would run successfully for over 10 years and provided the basis for other parts analysis solutions developed by Kingfisher including AIMS for Land Rover and TFAT for Toyota.
In 1991 Ian Fisher joined the company upon completing his studies at university. Ian’s early projects included further enhancing the software systems supplied to Glasgow City Council and developing database solutions for Scottish Enterprise’s Design and Food divisions.
In 1993 Kingfisher Systems moved to larger premises in the Langside area of Glasgow as the company continued to grow. Shortly thereafter the company became an authorised reseller of Sage accounting and payroll products, a partnership now entering its twentieth year. 1997 saw the launch of the parts prospecting system AIMS which was developed for Land Rover and installed in over 90 dealerships throughout the UK and Ireland. The company’s portfolio of auction clients continued to grow with Shotts Motor Auctions and Scottish Motor Auction Group now running Kingfisher solutions. During this period Kingfisher also developed database solutions for the NHS, Fab 24 and Rainbow Room International among others.
In 1999 the company decided to completely redevelop its existing Dos auction system with a new windows solution called Auction Manager. The system was released in August 2000 and quickly became the product of choice for premier motor auctions throughout the UK and Ireland. One of the products key strengths was its ability to integrate with other third party industry suppliers including Experian, HPI, CAP and Glass’s Guide.
21st Century Kingfisher
The turn of the millennium saw the development of the Toyota First Action Tool, a joint development with automotive consultancy Bluefin Active Solutions. The web based solution provided Toyota dealerships with detailed parts sale analysis information while composite reporting allowed Toyota GB to monitor sales trends across its dealer network.
With the success of Auction Manager and the continued expansion of the company, in December 2003 Kingfisher moved to new state of the art headquarters in Baillieston in the east of Glasgow.
In 2008 Kingfisher acquired the auction software business of its competitor, Augmented Reality, further cementing the company’s position within the motor auction industry with over 60 auctions running Kingfisher solutions. The success of Auction Manager allowed the company to concentrate on the motor auction sector developing a number of complementary products including the Vehicle Inspection System, a Barcoding solution, stock locators and Live Bid.
Live Bid offers purchasers a secure and reliable method of remote bidding over the internet. Released in March 2009 the system was soon adopted by around twenty auctions in the UK and Ireland. The product quickly established itself as the market leading online bidding system and was embraced by truck and plant & machinery auctions as well as Kingfisher’s core motor auction clients.
In 2012 Manheim Auctions commissioned Kingfisher to develop a replacement for its existing online system Simulcast. The solution, Simulcast 2, would be based upon the core technology underpinning Live Bid with a number of new modules developed to provide a device independent solution with full mobile capability. The product was released in February 2013 to great acclaim within the auction industry.
In July 2013 Manheim Europe Limited took a controlling stake in Kingfisher Systems. The move sees Kingfisher become part of the world’s largest automotive services company and opens up new opportunities for us within the Manheim group of companies. This latest development ensures that Kingfisher has a bright and exciting future as it celebrates 25 years since Jack first set up the fledgling firm in the back of a garage in Glasgow. Let’s hope the next 25 years is as successful and exciting...