History of the RMI and IGA

For over 100 years, The RMI has been serving the retail motor industry. It has been a century of evolution, but the core aims of the Federation have endured.

The Beginning

In 1913, as the country was on the verge of war, a group of motor traders was mobilising its own forces in a move to break away from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. As the last horse-bus ran through the city of London and mass vehicle production began to take shape, it was felt that the interests of agents would be better served by an association independent from manufacturers and, on New Year’s Eve 1913, the Agent’s Section Ltd was incorporated.

This independence was further consolidated in March 1922 with a new constitution and a new name, the Motor Agents Association (MAA), with the aim ‘to encourage, promote and protect the interests of firms, persons or corporations engaged in the retail branches of the motor trade.’ Four key divisions covered cars, commercial vehicles, motorcycles and petrol.

The committee responsible for leading this move included two pioneers and former presidents of the organisation: Albert R Atkey JP, who was responsible for the introduction of the motor car to South Africa, establishing the first car showroom in Johannesburg in 1902; and Sir Arthur Noel Mobbs who founded coach making Federation Pytchley Autocar in Slough and went on to invest in a venture that saw the development of the world’s first trading estate.

During The War

During the 1920s and 30s, the Association continued to grow in strength and when the second world war broke out, the MAA, via the Motor Trade War Executive, led negotiations with Government to secure payment for agents whose vehicles and premises were requisitioned. Our members made a vital contribution to the war effort, not least donating a fighter plane to the Royal Air Force as part of the Wings for Victory campaign. Today we support motor industry charity BEN. The Association was at the forefront of the industry’s post-war development, championing training with the incorporation of its National Craftsman Certificate in 1947.

The MAA to The RMI to The IGA

As the MAA’s membership make-up changed, with new business segments coming in, the organisation was seeking to create a federation of associations in order to represent the wide spread of special interests. This would ultimately lead to a name change, almost 50 years after such a rebranding was suggested.

A new name – Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) was introduced. Through the next few years the organisation would reorganise itself, with new associations for each business sector under the MAA umbrella.

Following this in 1993, the Independent Retailer Division (IRD) was rebranded as the Independent Garage Association (IGA) and the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) was formed and each was allowed to flourish under their own articles of association. The Cherished Numbers Dealers Association (CNDA) became affiliated in the same year. They were joined in 1995 by the Society of Motor Auctions (SMA). In 2006 the bodyshop division of the IGA was also given autonomy, making it more responsive to the needs of both independent and franchised repairers.

An Industry Moving Forward

Over the nine plus decades, the industry that the The RMI serves has come a long way. From the first Morris Car, the ‘Bullnose’ Oxford produced in 1913, to the 21st century Enzo Ferrari, capable of more than 200mph and recently voted as the world’s most iconic contemporary car, the pace of change is astounding.

However, while technology may have advanced, the issues we face are not so very different. As far back as 1913, the Federation was working on behalf of members to secure resolutions on matters such as taxation, spare parts distribution, trade plates, direct sales and petrol pricing. Today our agenda also includes raising standards, campaigning for a fairer regulatory framework and new vehicle profitability, as well as helping our members make sense of and prepare for new legislation, addressing environmental concerns and much more.