With close to 5,500 lots of construction machinery, agricultural equipment, and industrial plant committed to the auction, Euro Auctions had difficult choices to make with the 25-27 March 2020 event taking place as the UK Government was shutting Britain down in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With expectant consignors waiting for a sale, Euro Auctions had to choose from one of three options: either send 'unsold' machinery back to sellers globally, causing greater havoc, leave the lots for sale at the Leeds site for an indefinite period, or make the sale work.
With the yard at Leeds bulging at the seams, and with consignors trusting Euro Auctions to gain the 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 onsite in the UK, a plan was devised to make the sale happen, while 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 two-metre 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 major three-day online auction.
For this sale to work, Euro Auctions had to do things a little differently. Company staff from the Leeds site - which is Europe's biggest permanent off-highway machine auction facility - plus local territory managers made up the auction team. The site's 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.
Finally, the overall schedule was further altered to create a fourth-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 continent, 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. Euro Auctions says a total of 5,480 lots were sold and when the hammer was down and, under the circumstances, prices were "very strong".
Jonnie Keys, Euro Auctions operations manager, said: "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.
"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 UK Pound weak against the Euro, at €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 six-12 months."
During the lead-up to the sale, Euro Auctions worked hard to repatriate staff back to Northern 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 in the run-up to 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, says Euro Auctions, safely home and self-isolating along government guidelines.
Notable lots sold during the Leeds auction included:
2014 Komatsu PC210LC - £40,000
2014 Cat 325BL - £30,000
2015 Komatsu PC138US-10 - £37,000
2017 JCB JS131LC - £40,000
2013 CAT D6T LGP - £82,500
2013 CAT D6N LGP - £62,000
2011 Powerscreen XH500SR Tracked Jaw Crusher, Recycling Screener, Return Feed Belt, Side Belt - £119,000
2007 Cat 966H - £41,000
All Euro Auctions sites are now closed to the public and measures introduced to protect yard teams are being continually reviewed to ensure the company safeguards employees health and safety.
Upcoming Euro Auctions sales – which will be 'on-line' or 'timed' are:
Dormagen, Germany 'timed sale' 8th May
Dromore, Northern Ireland 'on-line' 8-9th May
Leeds, UK 'on-line' 20-22th May
Lisbon, Portugal 'on-line' 27th May
Dubai, Middle East 'on-line' 15th June