But the company, which saw pre-tax profits fall from £825,000 to £57,000 for the year to January 31, 2004, on turnover up slightly from £178.3m to £183.9m, is predicting a much stronger year after strengthening relationships with its key carmaker partners.
“With what we've been through, these results were as expected. We've had a lot of franchise issues with BMW and Mercedes which were significant for what is a small group, but let's get on with the future,” says William Jacks chief executive John Adair.
“We now have a good relationship with BMW, we're enjoying good times with Land Rover and a better time with Jaguar. Our first quarter will see an improved performance and we are optimistic about a much better year.”
The Jaguar and Land Rover business in Maidstone, acquired from Dutton-Forshaw in October, is already making a “significant contribution” to profits, while the relocation of the BMW aftersales facility to Sunningdale, expected to be completed in early 2005, is “critical to our success”, says Adair.
“It's our intention to grow, but there will not be significant growth this year. Partners we have now are the ones we are going forward with,” he adds.
Jacks is in negotiations to buy a new dealer business that, says Adair, would “immediately add value”. The company has promoted two directors to its main board. Mike Dodd, formerly operations director, becomes managing director, motor group, while Andrew Dick remains finance director. Both moves could be seen as a first step towards succession planning by Adair, now 58. He has been chief executive for eight years, and an employee of William Jacks since 1974.