Peter Vardy steps on gas to grow its presence in Aberdeen

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CAR dealership Peter Vardy is significantly increasing its presence in Aberdeen with a clutch of acquisitions which will see it sell Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche marques in the Granite City.

The deals come after a record year for the Glasgow-based group, which is forecasting sales will have risen to around £225 million in 2012 – up more than 8 per cent – with profits topping £7m.

The group, which already operates a Vauxhall dealership in Aberdeen, has acquired Town and County’s Land Rover and Porsche dealerships in East Tullos from owners Athol and Jackie Strachan.

Peter Vardy has also completed a deal with Pendragon to take control of the Jaguar dealership in Aberdeen.

No figures were released for the transactions, other than they represented a multi-million pound investment.

The Jaguar outlet, which traded as Stratstone in Lang Stracht, Mastrick, had previously operated as a Reg Vardy dealership on the site for more than 20 years until it was acquired in 2006.

Peter Vardy, grandson of legendary car salesman Reg and son of Sir Peter, said: “These new initiatives mark the end of a momentous year for our business, which was only founded six years ago but has gone from strength to strength through the efforts of a team of exceptional people throughout the group.”

He said plans were in place to invest in the premises of all of the acquired businesses.

The past 18 months have seen a restructuring of the business following the takeover in 2010 of Vauxhall showrooms in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Those changes included a debt-for-equity swap to turn loans from his father, Sir Peter, and his mother into shares in the business, which Vardy plans to buy back in the coming years.

Turning the debt into equity has strengthened his business’s balance sheet, giving him the financial firepower to push ahead with his acquisition strategy.

Vardy is following in a family tradition in the trade. Reg Vardy set up a haulage business near Durham in 1923 and opened his first car dealership in 1945.

Four years later, he was appointed as a dealer by Ford and steadily grew his business. His son joined the family trade at the age of 16.

Under Sir Peter – who was knighted in 2001 – the firm grew to 100 showrooms and 6,000 staff, with a turnover of about £1.7 billion a year.

He sold Reg Vardy to Pendragon for £506m in 2006 and stood down as chief executive, with his son leaving his post as manager of the Rossleigh Jaguar franchise in Edinburgh.

Father and son then set up Glasgow-based Peter Vardy Limited in 2006 and now have ten dealerships across Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Motherwell and Perth.

Peter Vardy turned over £207.9m in 2011, up from £181.8m in 2010 with operating profits of £2.1m.