Peoples' chairman Brian Gilda is selling the site where he started his business in 1983 for housing. The move to the greenfield site – expected to open in early 2005 – is aimed at generating a more visible presence. “Our intention is to take the proceeds from our original base and use it to build a state-of-the-art facility,” says Gilda. “The Bathgate site is tired but I will never forget the town. To me it was Las Vegas.”
The new centre is expected to follow similar design lines to that of Peoples' Ford Direct Supersite at Prescot on Merseyside, AM's current used car retailer of the year. It will employ around 100 staff.
The news of the multi-million pound investment comes as Gilda confirmed Peoples will sell non-Ford-badged cars for the first time this month when it starts offering the complete Mazda range at Speke on Merseyside. The move is expected to open a floodgate of additional franchises once block exemption legislation comes into force in October.
“We have been in dialogue with a couple of manufacturers for a number of months but at the moment we are still unsure of how the legislation will pan out,” Gilda says. “It is a situation we are monitoring very closely and we are looking to build on the new legislation.”
He adds that Peoples, whose turnover is up 10 per cent in the year to July, at £185m, will cotninue to concentrate on improving its offers to existing customers.
“I can certainly see some additional consolidation in the retail car industry but I am not sure that is necessarily going to be good for the consumer. We know from basic economics that competition is good for the marketplace,” says Gilda.
“What we will be concentrating on first is looking after our own house and our own customers. That has always been our priority.”