Ford dealership Peoples accelerates to achieve record financial performance

Scottish Ford dealership heavyweight Peoples has recorded what it says is its best-ever financial performance – having overtaken that seen pre-lockdown with annual profits nearly tripling.

Peoples Group was founded in 1983 and says it is the largest independent dealership in Europe retailing only Ford cars and commercial vehicles. It has six Ford Main Dealerships – encompassing Hermiston Quay, Edinburgh; Callendar Road, Falkirk; Almondvale, Livingston; and three in Liverpool.

It has today revealed how turnover in the year ending July 31 increased by almost 20 per cent to £289.5 million from the previous year, while profit before tax and preference share dividends was up 165 per cent to £7.98m. That contrasts with a year-on-year drop in turnover and profit in the previous 12 months.

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Chairman Brian Gilda said today: “Delivering these results in the face of the pandemic, fierce competition and diminishing volumes in certain sections of the market is testament to the determination of my directors, management and staff and the outstanding loyalty of our customers.

Chairman Brian Gilda cheers the group overtaking its pre-lockdown performance. Picture: Martin Shields.

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“This time last year we had just reopened our six dealerships after lockdown and our figures were predictably impacted, however we remained confident we had a robust plan in place, and this year’s figures are testament to that as we surpass our pre-lockdown performance.

“We are also pleased to have avoided making any redundancies during the year by utilising the job retention scheme, and all staff with the exception of directors were awarded a £400 bonus as a thank-you for their commitment and dedication.”

The company added that it closely monitors changing consumer attitudes and behaviours and its omnichannel approach has been a key growth driver.

Mr Gilda explained: “Our online offering has been a game-changer for the company as it has widened our customer base considerably. However, we recognise that people like dealing with people, particularly when making a sizeable purchase, so the ability to visit our dealerships to speak to a trusted adviser remains an important part of the sales journey.”

He also said it is a “joy” for Peoples to sell products like the all-new Electric Mustang Mach E, Puma, Focus and Fiesta as well as the popular commercial vehicle range led by the Transit and Ranger Raptor.

Challenges

Nevertheless, he did caution that the company would not take its foot off the gas and acknowledged that challenges remain ahead, particularly regarding semiconductor shortages that have affected manufacturers across the industry. Normality may not return until early next year, he said.

In addition, Mr Gilda acknowledged there has been a “plethora” of new-to-market online used car traders, adding: “Time will tell whether they are all still here at this time next year.”

The businessman started out as a trainee solicitor’s clerk on “starvation” wages, but his first job in sales was selling magazines door to door in the UK and South Africa.

He now divides his time between Peoples dealerships on both sides of the Border, while his other current roles include director of the Ford UK Dealer Council and vice-chair of the Ford European Dealer Council, advising 2,250 dealers across 22 European markets, and serving as chair of the Ford European Product Working Group. He is also a founder director of the Retail Automotive Alliance.

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