John Clark unveils 23rd dealership as profits soar

John Clark said new vehicle sales surged 31 per cent to 11,101 last year, with used car sales up 27 per cent to 9,023. Picture: Newspress
John Clark said new vehicle sales surged 31 per cent to 11,101 last year, with used car sales up 27 per cent to 9,023. Picture: Newspress
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MOTOR dealer John Clark is to capitalise on the booming car market as it prepares to take the wraps off its flagship Mini franchise in Aberdeen.

The opening will take the family-owned firm’s portfolio of dealerships to 23, and chairman and managing director John Clark said he was looking to grow the group’s footprint further next year.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday ahead of the publication of the company’s annual results, Clark said: “We’ve got a lot of expansion on the cards for 2014, with some revamping of existing premises and we’re working on some new ones due to launch in 2015.”

He remained tight-lipped on the new locations, but said the firm would be sticking to its east coast territory for the time being, adding: “We would expand with franchises we’re comfortable with, and as a financially strong company we’re always looking at opportunities.”

Along with its base in Aberdeen, the company has dealerships in Cupar, Dundee, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy and Perth.

Clark said 2013 was its fourth consecutive year of record earnings, with new vehicle sales surging 31 per cent to 11,101, helped by the acquisition of four outlets from listed rival Pendragon.

Used car sales powered ahead 27 per cent to 9,023, taking total volumes above the 20,000-unit mark for the first time since the firm was founded almost 40 years ago. Annual results, which are due to be published tomorrow, will show John Clark Motor Group’s pre-tax profits soared 68 per cent to £7.4 million in the year to the end of December, on turnover 33 per cent higher at £470m.

Having recently opened a multi-million pound Nissan dealership at the Balmoral Business Park on the south side of its home city, the addition of the neighbouring Mini outlet will take the company’s total portfolio to 23. As well as Mini and its parent marque BMW, John Clark sells Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen cars.

In June last year, it reached a deal with Pendragon to buy two Jaguar dealerships in Edinburgh and Perth, as well as two Land Rover franchises in Cupar and Perth.

Tie-ups with other marques could also be on the horizon as part of the group’s expansion plans.

“We’ve got some other future partners waiting in the wings, so we’ll see what happens,” Clark said.

Headcount at the company stood at 931 at the end of last year, but since then has grown to about 1,060, and Clark paid tribute to the “strong team” he has built up across the firm.

“We spend a lot of time and money on staff development and training, and the results have been achieved through the skills and knowledge of our team,” he said.

However, the group faces tough competition from the North Sea industry when it comes to finding suitably skilled technicians.

Clark said: “The oil industry pays such high amounts, but our industry has become more technically advanced over the years, so the skills we can give our people are very worthwhile and we have a very strong apprenticeship scheme.”