John Clark sales motoring ahead but profits reverse

John Clark's fleet of brands includes BMW. Picture: Contributed
John Clark's fleet of brands includes BMW. Picture: Contributed
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Car dealer John Clark Motor Group (JCMG) has reported a drop in annual profits as pressure on margins took the shine off a 10 per cent jump in sales.

Turnover at the family-owned company, based in Aberdeen, accelerated to £667 million in 2015, up from £604m the previous year, with new car sales volumes rising 6 per cent to a record high of 13,691 units.

Used volumes powered ahead by 12 per cent to 11,853 vehicles, giving a combined total of 25,544 – almost double the figure of 13,090 recorded four years previously.

But JCMG, which sells marques including Audi, BMW, Skoda and Volkswagen, said pre-tax profits dropped 13.5 per cent to £9.1m as “market conditions saw pressures on gross margins” and interest costs increased.

Group chairman John Clark said: “The group’s primary aim in 2015 was to continue to build on the record results of the previous five years and, despite the expected downturn in the North Sea oil industry and the resultant impact on the Grampian region, to maintain positive momentum towards our key strategic objectives.

“We continued to focus on developing and extending the relationships with our existing franchise partners in the north, east and Central Belt of Scotland, as well as to diversify via opportunities which were presented to us by others. The group added seven new outlets, with one via acquisition and six through franchise transfers. These opportunities have enhanced our portfolio and provide our customers with a greater product offering across a wider geographical footprint.”

READ MORE: John Clark adds trio of new marques to stable

During the year the company added Dacia, Peugeot and Renault to its stable of brands after converting former Audi showrooms in its home city. The firm also has sites in Cupar, Dundee, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Elgin, Kirkcaldy and Perth. Its headcount has swelled by 11 per cent to more than 1,100.

JCMG also said it achieved a tenth consecutive year of turnover growth across its service workshops, accident repair centres and parts operations.

Managing director Chris Clark said: “As well as being another successful year, 2015 was also notable due to some of the key projects delivered. Most notable was the relocation of Aberdeen Audi to a new state-of-the-art facility on Balmoral Park. 2016 is continuing in a similar vein as we have recently completed a substantial refurbishment at Specialist Cars Volkswagen Aberdeen and we have recently announced a substantial project in Dundee, with the relocation of BMW and Mini and the introduction of Jaguar and Land Rover.”

He added: “Looking to the future, we will continue to focus on our strategic objectives of maintaining growth by ensuring we deliver customer experiences that people trust and recommend. The key to this is ensuring we invest in our colleagues and our facilities, as these are the most essential elements to achieve success in what is currently an uncertain post-Brexit market. With our finances in a good shape it will allow us to not only face up to these uncertain times but to grow through them and pursue further opportunities.”

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