Peoples car boss warns of ‘Armageddon’ risk over no-deal Brexit

Scottish motor industry veteran Brian Gilda has warned that a no-deal Brexit would have a catastrophic impact on the industry in the UK and urged politicians to get a grip of the issue.

Motor industry veteran Brian Gilda urged politicians to 'get a fix on Brexit'. Picture: Contributed

His comments came as the Peoples dealership group he heads today reported a sharp fall in profits last year amid fierce competition, despite seeing turnover reaching record levels.

Gilda, who founded the Ford retailer 36 years ago, said the motor industry in the UK was facing “Armageddon” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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“Only the most resilient will get through the pain barrier that’s coming over the next couple of years if we exit Europe without a deal and the government will be responsible for the Armageddon that follows,” he said.

“The current disarray and hysterical rhetoric afflicting politics is bad for business and bad for industry in many respects, not least because it is undermining public confidence.”

He urged politicians to “get a fix on Brexit and an agreement which doesn’t impose unacceptable tariffs and cross-border trading constraints”.

“Otherwise, there’s going to be a real shakedown in the industry.”

The hard-hitting comments came as the firm reported profits before tax and dividends on preference shares in the year to 31 July of £4.55 million, a drop of 17.2 per cent .

However, the firm stressed the figure was the fifth best in its history and added its return on sales figure “outperforms most other comparable dealerships”.

Turnover edged up to £277.4m from £274.4m, during what it described as an increasingly tough trading and economic environment throughout the year.

'Fierce competition'

In his chairman’s statement, Gilda warned that Brexit had already damaged consumer confidence.

He said: “The combination of government actions north and south of the border along with no hard evidence of the implications of Brexit has led to a slowing of consumer confidence with the collateral damage on results.”

Gilda said despite the drop in profits he was “delighted” with the results.

“Throughout the year the group has bettered all the operational benchmarks and financial milestones continuously identified by the directors to our shareholders, bankers and trading partners.

“The real story, however, is to be found in the determination of my directors, management and staff to once more deliver up the best possible results in the face of fierce competition and diminishing volumes in certain sections of the market.

Peoples Ford group employs 400 staff at dealerships in Edinburgh, Livingston and Falkirk and three in the Liverpool area.

Last week Glasgow-based Arnold Clark, Scotland’s biggest motor dealership group, reported turnover had topped £4 billion for the first time with profits also returning to growth.

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