John Clark stays cautious despite record new car sales
John Clark, one of Scotland’s biggest motor dealerships with a string of east coast showrooms, has enjoyed a second year of record profits as car sales took an upswing and the firm continued its expansion drive.
New vehicle sales increased
19 per cent in 2011 to a record 7,000 units, the Aberdeen-based company said yesterday.
In 2011, John Clark Motor Group extended its Skoda franchise network, opening Specialist Cars Skoda in Dundee and acquiring the Thomson & Potter dealership in Burrelton, near Perth. The group also opened a commercial vehicles centre in Dundee and extended its Volkswagen van franchise from Edinburgh, through Fife and Dundee, to Aberdeen.
This year, the firm completed a £6 million Pentland Land Rover dealership in Edinburgh’s Newbridge area, and opened a Specialist Cars Nissan dealership in Aberdeen. Overall employee numbers have now grown to 750, from 708 in 2011.
John Clark, chairman and managing director of the family-owned dealership, said sales in 2012 “started well”, but that the rest of the year and into 2013 looked set to be “challenging”.
But he did not rule out further expansion or moving into new franchises “as and when the right opportunities arise”.
The motor group currently represents Audi, BMW, Mini, Range Rover, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen from various sites in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Fife.
At £308m, group turnover was up 10 per cent on 2010. Operating profit increased 21 per cent to £5m in 2011.
Clark said: “Our aim for 2011 was to build on the momentum in 2010. Despite continuing difficult trading conditions, we have succeeded.
“Looking to the future, 2012 has started well, but we expect the second half of this year and next year to be quite challenging. Consequently, we shall be looking closely at opportunities to grow our after-sales activity, while controlling costs.
“Despite our major investment outlays, with sustained focus on working capital controls we again generated a positive year-end bank balance and we retain a highly supportive relationship with our funding partners. They have confirmed their support for our strategic objectives, including further expansion as and when the right opportunities arise.
“This puts the John Clark Motor Group in a strong financial position. We shall continue to focus on extending relationships with our existing franchise partners. At the same time, we are always open to consider potential opportunities presented to us by other franchises.”
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