AM Online

Superleague Vardy finds place in 'alternative' list

The turnover of two of the three leading groups in the AM100 show a decline for the year compared with June when the main list was published.

We are, though, in this supplement also looking beneath the skin of the AM100 with the assistance of RSM Robson Rhodes, our partners in calculating the listing. On the facing page is an alternative AM top 20, based on return on shareholders' funds.

Each has its place in Automotive Management's assessment of the UK motor retail scene and the new list produces some interesting results.

Only Reg Vardy plc, of the three groups with a turnover exceeding £1bn, makes it into the new hallowed ground of return on shareholders' funds.

But equal 12th is a fine performance, when the top places are filled by much smaller groups. At the head of the alternative top 20 is Bates Motor Group which earlier this month took gold in the Automotive Management Awards for dealer group.

We have watched Edward Belcher's careful nurturing of this latest manifestation of an old family business. Mr Belcher has a big personality which must resonate through every department of his business.

Like Peter Vardy, he is a figurehead who can add personality to a retail group without in any way making manufacturers feel threatened. It is a style which should - and could - be emulated more often.

The top 20 opposite reveals a rich mix of businesses. It includes Sytner Group (at No11) which has also forced its way in to the top 20 of the main AM100.

At No 6 in the 'shareholders list' is William Jacks, part of a Malaysian group with well-placed Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the affluent South-east.

Compare that business with the companies sharing seventh place in the new listing. Glyn Hopkins has just won an M25 Fiat/Alfa Romeo territory after the manufacturer ended its association with Pendragon, the UK's biggest dealer group.

Also at seventh is Greenhous Group, the Shropshire company which is heavily into Vauxhall and has launched a remarketing division.

Firmly in the 'alternative' top 20 are Sanderson Bramall (retaining fourth position in the AM100) and JCT600, the Yorkshire group.

The common theme which differentiates these businesses from the other 80 in the AM100 turnover league is an ability to perform.

Automotive Management has always enjoyed welcoming to the AM100 the small start-ups which made the grade. Equally, we want to praise those firms - both large and small - which have made the grade in this exacting way.

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