Ed Foster: Amari, tell me about your earliest car memory.
Sheikh Amari: Probably 1976 and that’s when I first saw a Countach. It was a Periscope, in yellow and I remember it’s out of there in the showroom and it totally blew me away.
Ed Foster: One of my later questions was gonna be ‘Why do you love the Countach so much?’. Is that why?
Sheikh Amari: That’s why, yeah!
Ed Foster: And when you were younger, did you have your bedroom lined with posters of cars?
Sheikh Amari: The thing is that I was always quite lucky because my father was into his cars, so we had cars parked downstairs in the garage and we did have posters as well. I remember having Countach, black Countach 5000S, a 911 Turbo and a Testarossa.
Ed Foster: Now, I think I know the answer to this, but because it’s fantastic – ‘Which car did you learn to drive in?’.
Sheikh Amari: Right, very good question! I learned to drive in a Ford Escort, but before that I was driving old Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
Ed Foster: What was the first car that you actually sold?
Sheikh Amari: A Ferrari Mondial.
Ed Foster: And just to give a little bit of a summary – ‘How did you get into this business?’.
Sheikh Amari: My father was obviously a big car lover as well and he loved collecting cars and he said to me at one point ‘You know something, Amari? When you pass your driving test, you will be mobile. What do you want to do? Do you want to join the family business or do something else?’ And I said: ‘Dad, listen it is cars for me!’
Ed Foster: Obviously we look around now and we are surrounded by tens, hundreds of cars and there are sales going on every week and you are a big name in the business. How do you actually get on the ladder? Is it literally a case of going off buying a car and selling it? Is it as simple as that?
Sheikh Amari: It’s not as easy as that! You’d be surprised by the number of emails and messages I get through Instagram. People are asking me: ‘We want to start up, how do you do it?’. In today’s market, in today’s world to do what we are doing, you’ve got to be established! I mean, when we started off we were one of the very first independent supercar dealers.
Ed Foster: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given throughout your career?
Sheikh Amari: My father always said to me: ‘Be honest, straightforward! Tell it how it is! Profit is not a dirty word.
Ed Foster: Has there been a sort of a key to your success in terms of business decisions?
Sheikh Amari: Yeah! I married my wife Saba, once I married her that was it, business was booming. That was the best decision I’ve ever made!
Ed Foster: How long have you been married?
Sheikh Amari: We’ve been married now for 17 and a half years.
Ed Foster: Just changing tack a little bit, but can you teach someone to sell? Because obviously this whole bit is based on sales, buying the right and selling it.
Sheikh Amari: I don’t think you can teach someone to sale.
Ed Foster: So you are born with it?
Sheikh Amari: I think it’s going to be a natural gift. I mean for me, and how I look at it, my cars sell by themselves. If your product is right, if your car is presented well, and if it’s priced right – it will sell. We don’t have these salespeople!
Ed Foster: Has all of this changed you as a person?
Sheikh Amari: Yes, it has!
Ed Foster: For better or for worse?
Sheikh Amari: That’s a good question, actually! For better or for worse? I will say to you, for the better. This is a life changing passion which obviously made me, my family humble people. And we are all grateful for what we’ve got.
Ed Foster: Hypothetically speaking tomorrow you’re setting up an international showroom. Where are you gonna do it and why?
Sheikh Amari: It would have to be the UK! I have had showrooms in Dubai, many years ago, 20 years ago and don’t get me wrong, I loved it! The weather was great, the cars were great! But I think the UK is for me.
Ed Foster: Talking about your showroom. We are sat here in one part of your showroom. How would you describe the atmosphere in your showroom and what can customers expect when they come in?
Sheikh Amari: Obviously, we are very friendly. I think we’ve got a very honest look. All our cars are presented in the best possible way and in the most honest possible way. I also think that obviously, for our clients, I think the most important thing is that they’re dealing with me and Saba.
Ed Foster: You said you couldn’t teach anyone to sell cars, but can you deconstruct how you sell cars?
Sheikh Amari: I think today’s sale is all in your product! Customers, they already come with the knowledge! You have to remember, 25 years ago, they used to pick up just the Autotrader which had five lines in it, a double, a quadruple out of it and that was it! And it would say – V good condition, full service history and alloy wheels – just a few sentences. The rest of it, you had to work it out yourself and ring up.
Nowadays, the way things are listed on our website, the way customers do their research on their car on YouTube or on the web – they already know what they want. They’ve already come prepared to buy! So our sale technique really is non-existent!
Ed Foster: How have specialist car finance providers changed your business?
Sheikh Amari: Massively! I mean, we work with JBR Capital as one of our main lenders. It’s fantastic, when you’ve got a working partnership of this kind! Customers, obviously know the brand Amari, they also know JBR Capital as a finance brand as well. It’s made life a lot, lot easier. And then everyone wants finance, just look at the interest rates. You can’t get a better deal anywhere!
Ed Foster: Right! Quickfire questions! We’ve only got a few of these! Just say the first answer that comes into your head. Best car you’ve ever driven?
Sheikh Amari: Lamborghini Countach again.
Ed Foster: I’d known you would say that, even before asking!
Ed Foster: The car you wish you’d kept?
Sheikh Amari: It’s got to be the Pagani.
Ed Foster: What is the car right now, the sort of hot ticket?
Sheikh Amari: 488 Pista.
Ed Foster: Really?
Sheikh Amari: Yes, we’ve done very well with these cars.
Ed Foster: For how long has your longest serving customer been buying from you?
Sheikh Amari: 27 years.
Ed Foster: Wow
Sheikh Amari: Yes, 27 years!
Ed Foster: That’s an amazing advert!
Sheikh Amari: I will tell you how many cars he bought in 27 years. Are you ready for this?
Ed Foster: Come on!
Sheikh Amari: 86, he bought 86 cars in 27 years.
Ed Foster: I take it, he sells more, then he buys more?
Sheikh Amari: Yes, that’s right! Obviously he’ll exchange cars every few years, then he’ll add some to his collection and then he will change again after a few years.
Ed Foster: Finally! What’s more exciting, driving one of these machines or selling it?
Sheikh Amari: Driving them!
Ed Foster: I’m so glad you said that! Amari, thank you so much! It was a pleasure.
Sheikh Amari: Thank you very much!