A lot has happened since Mike Pulman opened his first Durham Volkswagen showroom 25 years ago. Starting with only 17 employees and one location representing one Volkswagen Group brand. Flashforward to 2023 and we now have over 250 people working and being part of the Pulman family. Five locations across Cramlington, Durham and Sunderland. Representing six Volkswagen Group brands and above all else still delivering that fantastic customer experience.
It took two years for Mike Pulman’s first every showroom to be built. Finally, in 2000 Pulman moved to their prime location – Abbey Road – where head office now employs over 85 members of staff. From humble beginnings, this flagship site was the first retailer in the UK to have a Café located in their showroom.
In 2014 Pulman launched its first Škoda dealership in Durham. Starting with a 4 new car pop up showroom beside the Volkswagen Durham site. Sharing Volkswagen’s used car pitch and workshop facilities. We even launched the new Škoda Fabia with a showroom event. We were pleased that two years later in 2016, Pulman Škoda Belmont was launched, with a state-of-the-art purpose build showroom including Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and another Pulman Café.
The Café had now expanded into both Pulman Durham locations and is available within the Volkswagen and Škoda showrooms. Providing freshly made breakfast, lunch and takeaways as well as offering complimentary drinks and snacks to the Pulman sales and service customers. It truly adds that extra atmosphere and experience that you don’t usually find in a car showroom.
Pulman opened a second Volkswagen showroom located on Newcastle Road in 2008, acquiring the then Mill Garages Volkswagen site at Fulwell Mill. Later expanding to become a Škoda authorised service repairer in 2014. In 2021, Pulman launched its first Škoda showroom in Sunderland. Operating out of the same Newcastle Road location, we converted the showroom into two. One half representing Volkswagen and other representing Škoda. Offering an even better choice for our customers.
Pulman are uniquely the only family-run Volkswagen retailer in the Northeast. Launching their SEAT showroom in Sunderland in August 2010 with the same family orientated attitude. Formerly known as Alexandra Bridge Cars – one of the oldest SEAT dealers in the country – they are among the handful of dealerships that helped launch SEAT UK a quarter of a century ago.
In 2020 SEATs performance and sporty brand CUPRA separated and became a stand-alone brand. Pulman jumped on this chance to represent CUPRA and launched the CUPRA showroom alongside SEAT in 2020. In 2022, the showroom underwent a full refurbishment for the new CUPRA corporate identity. Since launch CUPRA has developed CUPRA only models such as the Formentor and the full electric Born. We can’t wait to see where this new brand goes.
In 2020 we acquired our third location in Cramlington. Launching Pulman for the first time north of the Tyne, which is exciting. Acquiring the fantastic family orientated Silbury Škoda, we felt this aligned perfectly with the Pulman family values.
Since 2020 we have also launched the Volkswagen Financial Services Rent-a-Car, based across Durham, Sunderland and Cramlington. It offers our customers something new, with short term and flexible rental.
Ian Buckle the Managing Director of Pulman Group comments, “This year we are celebrating 25 years of serving our customers across the Northeast. What is it that makes us different from other car retailers? It is the fact that we are one big Pulman family. We give our amazing employees the chance to grow and develop and deliver that fantastic customer experience that is at the heart of everything we do. I would like to say a big thank you to all our fantastic customers, amazing employees and everyone who has supported us for the last 25 years, we’re looking forward to the next 25 years.”
So you're all up to speed on our journey so far and what an experience it's been! We're so excited to be celebrating our 25th anniversary on November 1st and if you want to get involved with the celebrations, head to our 25th anniversary web page to find out more and keep up to date with the latest news.