Pembers cars in Russell Vale call it quits

Family-run car dealership Pembers Motor Group has shut up shop after more than seven decades of trading in Russell Vale, conceding to be a victim of a changing world.

The business had been struggling amid sluggish sales and rising competition.

On July 4 the Miller family - patriarch Jeff and his sons Ben and Luke - closed the doors.

"We've been working there for so long - I don't know if shock's the right word," Luke Miller said.

"Nobody really knows what to do. It's the end of an era."

Pembers opened in 1938 and has been operated by the Millers since 1998 as a dealership for cars and caravans, with parts sales and a mechanics workshop.

As car sales fell, so did demand for service.

The Millers said they had closed the business "with a heavy heart".

"We have struggled to keep the business going in the last two years and it has become time to draw a line in the sand," they said.

"We simply couldn't keep up with the global financial downturn and decrease in vehicle sales Australia-wide.

"We encourage everybody to buy local and support the little guys so other businesses can avoid this situation in the future."

New car sales in Australia rose 2.2 per cent in 2013, based on the records of the 10 highest-selling manufacturers.

But profits in the industry have been eroding as increasingly internet-savvy shoppers pit dealership against dealership.

Michael Corban, dealer principal of Wollongong's Corban Automotive, said profits had been driven as low as $500-$700 on cars that sold for $20,000 or $30,000.

Outside of the luxury market, and with the "enormous" infrastructure and staffing costs associated with running a dealership, it was near impossible to turn a profit, he said. "The old consumers, people like myself, would walk in the door of a store and buy, but today car sales are really about buying online," he said.

"[Consumers] can buy the same car from 56 dealerships.

"You might be selling a Mitsubishi Lancer and making $1200. One phone call to a dealer up the road can reduce that to $600."

Pembers is helping its 11 staff to find new jobs.

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