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Small retail group

##smallretail--right## In a refreshing appreciation of the role of the modern car dealer, Beadles benchmarks itself against high street retailer John Lewis. Its mission statement is simple: To continually exceed customers' expectations.

The group's focus is on creating highly motivated, trained and appropriately rewarded staff, and customer-focused management who recognise the need to drive stakeholder value. Each dealership has a brand manager who acts as the managing director of the business. They are encouraged to take full ownership for their areas of responsibility, treating the business as if it was their own. Success is measured by financial performance, Beadles' in-house customer experience programme, lost sales reporting and CRM reports.

Beadles was established in 1900 as a motor body and carriage manufacturer by John C Beadle. Fifteen years on it became part of the Rootes Group as a result of Beadle's daughter Nancy marrying Sir Reginald Rootes – the type of pre-nuptial agreement that was commonplace at the time. The group started acquiring new car franchises and by 1987 it had Rover, Land Rover and Jaguar dealerships in Dartford and Sidcup. That same year it regained independence for the first time in 72 years after a management buy-out by current joint chairmen Paul Boast and Peter Liddle.

Beadles steadily expanded during the 90s, moving the Rover franchise out of Sidcup into a new dealership in Eltham in 1990, to enable Sidcup to focus on Land Rover. In 1992, it dual-franchised for the first time, opening a Nissan showroom in Sidcup, while a Toyota outlet was purchased in Medway from Lancaster two years later.

In 1999, Beadles added VW and another Rover dealership with the acquisition of Fairways Group's outlets in Gillingham and Maidstone, and two years ago it bought the VW premises in Sevenoaks from the receivers of HMG Group. The company now operates nine dealerships: three VW, two Toyota, two MG Rover, one Land Rover and a Nissan outlet. Last year's turnover will show steady growth on 2002's £117m (AM100: No 61), itself up 15% on 2001.

Profits are reinvested in the business to ensure steady growth is supported by a strong asset base. Cash reserves remain high which means Beadles can react swiftly to changes in the marketplace, taking advantage of any purchase opportunities. Its growth strategy has seen periods of acquisition, in 1999 and 2001, followed by a year of consolidation – 2000 and 2002 – suggesting the company is now ready to embark on the next stage of expansion.

JUDGES' COMMENT:
Beadles has a nice, diverse franchise portfolio and operates a tight, manageable region. It understands the thresholds for expansion with its target plan of 10-12 outlets, which explains its consistently strong performance in the AM return on capital employed tables, figuring in the top 10 for the past two years.



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