John Clark Motor Group turnover keeps on driving ahead

John Clark Motor Group, one of Scotland's biggest car dealerships with a strong focus on the North-east, has battled the downturn in the oil industry with its turnover doubling over the past five years.

John Clark sells a range of marques including Audi, BMW and Renault. Picture: Contributed

Latest figures show that, during the course of 2016, overall turnover grew by 5 per cent to £703 million.

While profit before tax dipped to just over £8.2m from £9.1m the year before, the group said its earnings as a percentage of sales remained above the UK motor trade national average, despite the “volatile market conditions”.

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Both new and used vehicle volumes reached record highs during 2016, the group added. New unit sales volumes rose by 4 per cent to 14,712 and used volumes grew by 10 per cent to 13,062.

Over the course of the last five years, turnover has grown by 98 per cent, operating profit has risen 81 per cent while the company’s headcount has expanded by 63 per cent.

During last year, the number of people employed in the group rose by 6 per cent to 1,206 on the back of new Dacia, Peugeot and Renault franchises, as well as some increases in head office staff.

The group represents a host of major brands including Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mini and Volkswagen across showroom sites in Aberdeen, Cupar, Dundee, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Elgin, Kirkcaldy and Perth.

Chairman John Clark said: “The group’s primary aim in 2016 was to see consolidated growth from expansion in prior years and, despite the continued downturn in the North Sea oil industry and 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 consider potential opportunities which were presented to us by others and lead us to open Peugeot, Renault and Dacia in Aberdeen.”

He added: “We recognise that the wider outlook for 2017 is one of ongoing political uncertainty with a stable but fragile economy. The market remains challenging and April brought added overhead costs in the form of a notable commercial property rates increase and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

“However, our mid-year management accounts show 7 per cent further growth in turnover and our net profits are ahead of both budget and prior year comparatives.”

Clark described the group’s finances as being in “good shape” and said it was well placed to “pursue further opportunities”.

Group managing director Chris Clark said: “Another area that saw considerable investment was property, with the completion of our Dundee Audi and Volkswagen Aberdeen showroom refurbishments. 2017 has and will continue to see a focus on property as we will open an all new state-of-the-art Pentland Jaguar Land Rover dealership at Fort Kinnaird in October, which is designed to service customers that live east of Edinburgh city.

“Furthermore, we have recently started work in Dundee for the relocation of John Clark BMW, Mini and Motorrad, as well as a brand new Jaguar and Land Rover dealership.”