Hard work, investment in staff training and a stable management team are behind JCT600's record pre-tax profits, which rose 51% to £11.1m on turnover up 22% at £415m. The retail group was predicting profits of £10m, but says an excellent last quarter exceeded its expectations.
New car sales rose 26%, used car sales were up 19% and aftersales profits leapt 21%. Strong residuals doubled profits in the contract hire division to £1.3m. JCT600 opened three outlets last year and has earmarked £15m for growth this year, including a Porsche showroom in Sheffield, to open next month, a Mercedes outlet in Chesterfield, a new Porsche centre in Leeds and a Peugeot dealership in Bradford.
“We would also like to expand with one of our franchise partners this year and are in negotiations with a few people,” says John Tordoff, JCT600 chief executive. “All our expansion over the past year has come from the block exemption shake-up, either from dealers who lost the franchise, or those that can't or won't invest the money in meeting the higher standards.”
JCT600 is selling both Toyota showrooms after declining an offer to take on the West Yorkshire market area on the grounds that “we didn't have the stomach for big investments in areas that were unnecessary”. The net result is that the group is likely to end the year with around 35 outlets. Turnover “could increase” to around £450m, but profits will remain stable as margins are squeezed on JCT600's premium brands.