Peoples Ford boss warns over Brexit as sales flatline

Scottish Ford giant Peoples has managed to navigate a bumpy road to generate an annual turnover figure that almost matches the previous year's record haul.

The groups founder and chairman Brian Gilda is one of the motor industrys leading figures. Picture: Contributed

The firm, which ranks as the largest independent dealership in Europe retailing only Ford cars and commercial vehicles, reported turnover of £274.4 million for the year to 31 July, only slightly lower than the record-breaking £276.5m generated in 2016/17.

It delivered profits of £5.5m – the joint third best in its history – while there was an increase of 7.9 per cent in the group’s financial position in terms of total assets.

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Chairman and entrepreneur Brian Gilda, who founded the business 36 years ago, said the positive results came despite a much tougher trading and economic environment throughout the year. But he also warned of “Armageddon” for the motor industry over possible Brexit tariffs.

“Throughout the year the group has bettered all the operational benchmarks and financial milestones identified by the directors to our shareholders,” he said.

“I’m delighted with these results. 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.”

Gilda, who is chair of the influential Ford Europe Product Panel, warned that the industry in the UK was “staring over a cliff edge”.

He said: “Unless the UK government gets a fix on Brexit, an agreement which doesn’t impose unacceptable tariffs and cross-border trading constraints, the UK motor industry is facing Armageddon. This is a huge industry in the UK and Brexit has the potential to do untold damage to it.”

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

Peoples Ford group employs some 400 staff at three dealerships in Scotland – in Edinburgh, Livingston and Falkirk – as well as three in and around Liverpool. The best-selling cars were the Fiesta and Focus.