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Record results for JCC

Just Car Clinics Group, the UK’s second largest independent collision repair chain with 13 vehicle collision repair centres, has reported record preliminary results for the year ending December 31, 2005.

Turnover is up 5.9% to £24.86m (£23.46m in 2004), operating margin improved from 2.4% to 3.1%, profit before goodwill amortization and taxation is up 50.4% to £692,000 (£460,000 for the previous year) and operating cash flow was strong at £1,193,000 (£710,000 in 2004).

Cost control remains an important focus for the group and operating expenses as a percentage of sales decreased from 39.8% in 2004 to 39.4%, despite increases in fuel, electricity and gas pricing during the year.

Barry Whittles, chief executive, of Just Car Clinics Group, says:

“I am delighted with these record results. The group has continued to build on its successes with improvements in volume and margins, and the majority of our locations have achieved a satisfactory level of profitability.

“We are in a good position to grow strongly and continue to actively seek acquisition opportunities as well as looking at potential green-field sites.”

The group is looking to increase the number of trading locations and the board has, therefore, been actively seeking acquisition opportunities.

A number of potential locations have been investigated during the last six months. Some negotiations are still in progress.

The company plans to add at least three more sites to the business before the end of the year. Whittles says: “The changes are an important stage in our growth and development strategy and we are now actively looking to identify new sites outside our existing catchment-area that offer the right opportunities for our business.”

Whittles wants the new sites to be between 30 and 50 miles from existing JCC centres to prevent both inter-competition and fragmentation of the business.

The focus will be on reducing the period between start up and the site becoming profitable, and locations will be identified that could be opened initially with relatively low overheads but have the opportunity for expansion as the business develops.

Industry analyst David Cresswell tells AM: “There’s no doubt, these are outstanding results. Barry Whittles and his team have done a fantastic job. However, the fact remains they still only made 2.4% profit before tax, and the reality is, with the investment required by repairers to keep up with technological demands and training needs, that level of profitability in the industry just isn’t enough.”

JCC has also benefited from increased investment in training and customer care, with the launch last year of its In Touch initiative, focusing on internal and external communication and service levels.

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