Off-road adventurer takes the wheel at family firm
- Credit: Charlie Parson
A free-wheeling adventurer who has explored far-flung regions of the world in her Land Rover is set to steer the Ipswich company her parents started.
Scarlett Mansfield has succeeded her father, Duncan Mansfield, as chief executive of Britcar as he takes a backseat in the business he and his wife and fellow ex-Army driver Sandy created.
Scarlett has travelled the world after catching the off-roading bug from her parents and took her Freelander 1 from Ipswich to Mongolia via central Asia on a road trip at the age of 21 – sleeping in the back.
She wants the business – which specialises in supplying mail order car parts, accessories, and spares for Land Rovers and Jaguars which go around the world – to attract more women to areas such as off-roading which can feel like a male domain.
The business – which employs 13 staff at its Riverside Industrial Park base and has a turnover of £2.5m – battled through the pandemic lockdowns by finding new markets for its products among hobbyists and emergency services providers.
Scarlett – who has just taken on the role and is slowly taking over from Duncan – said the company is now mainly run by women.
“What’s amazing is we’ve just realised we’re actually majority-female run,” she said.
“After having a few men leave the company recently, we’ve realised all our senior positions are filled by women – which is rare for any company let alone a car parts business which is historically very male dominated.
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“We’re looking to make the industry more inclusive and welcome new people getting into Land Rovers and off-roading as right now if you ask a question on a forum you often get a lot of sarcastic responses and abuse if it’s a simple question. But we’d like everyone to feel comfortable asking questions – there’s no such thing as a silly question.”
Scarlett has worked at the business on and off since she was a child, starting with a Saturday job tasked with everything from shredding documents to picking up cigarette butts from the carpark.
She graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in history and followed it up with a master’s from the University of Oxford in History.
She went on to launch her own freelance writing and marketing business and travelled the world, writing about her off-road adventures in Mongolia, Bali and the US for specialist publications.
“I’ve always been interested in Land Rovers as my parents used to take my sisters and I off-roading in them when we were younger,” she explained.
But it was her trip to Mongolia which showed her how capable the vehicles are and how fantastic they are for adventure, she said.
“I ended up seeking out local clubs wherever I travelled. As a result, I ended up off-roading with the Northern California Land Rover Club in Lake Tahoe after reaching out to them online, and befriended the Bali Land Rover Owners Club and wrote stories about them too for both Land Rover Monthly and Land Rover Owners magazine.”
Throughout this time she ran the marketing for Britcar on a freelance basis and established and implemented a marketing strategy. She has slowly increased her presence in the business and said she was excited to breathe new life into the business and take on a new challenge.
“I’ve always been business-savvy and joked I could run Britcar better than my dad could. But with him getting older and my mother unfortunately struggling with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease he decided he wanted to step back from the business. He needed someone he could trust who had a real passion for business and innovation to breathe some new life into the business and I have some new plans in the works,” she said.
“I’m excited to bring a younger, fresh approach to the business. I want to prioritise improving tech at the company and have a new website in the works and plan on introducing new features such as (online payments service) Klarna to allow (people) to repair their car even if they don’t have the funds immediately.
“It’s about making Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles more accessible to everyone. I also want people to know we’re a friendly, welcoming bunch who believe there’s no such thing as a silly question. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to learning about cars, and we want to be that welcoming face to turn to when it comes to parts.”