Auction action

28 February 2008

Dominating the equipment auction market is Ritchie Bros, founded in 1963 near Vancouver, Canada. It sold US$2.72 billion (€1.93 billion) worth of equipment in 2006 at 161 public, unreserved auctions. That level of activity “...meant an auction on nearly every working day”, says Cedric Jandet, marketing manager for the company's European operations.

The company says its success stems from its “unwavering” adherence to the unreserved method. There are no minimum bids or reserved prices. Items sell for the highest bid received. The company says customers bid in confidence, because there is no price manipulation – owners are forbidden by contract to bid on their own machines.

Ritchie reaches for buyers and seller globally through 110 locations in 25 countries, including 33 auction sites. Although the majority of auctions are in the US, one indication of relative global activity follows. A worldwide company record was set last month at a A$36 million (€22 million) auction in Brisbane, Australia, at which a single, unnamed buyer bought A$16 million (€9.3 million) worth of equipment.

As important as physical auction activity is to Ritchie, bids over the Internet bought US$446 million (€317 million) of equipment in 2006, over 16% of total sales. It has 57000 customers from 150 countries registered and qualified to use its on-line service.

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