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Arnold Clark opens super-site

Europe’s largest car showroom has opened in Glasgow.

The three-floor, 110,000sq ft facility operates under Arnold Clark’s Machargs brand and contains Ford and Mazda dealerships, along with a Prestige and Performance franchise, and a large selection of used cars.

The £7m building, in South Street on the north bank of the River Clyde, was designed by architects Opfer Logan and built by Interserve Project Services. It has space for 400 cars and there is room for another 200 in the adjoining car parks. This still leaves room for a sizeable service area, which contains 10 ramps, two MoT bays and a tyre bay.

 The history of Machargs dates back to its formation as Macharg, Rennie and Lindsay in 1921. The company was bought in 1986 by Arnold Clark Automobiles.

“It’s sentimental to say but it means a great deal to many people that we are staying in the same area,” says Arnold Clark managing director Eddie Hawthorne.

The development is part of a massive rebuilding project in the former harbour district of Glasgow. Derelict shipyards have only recently been demolished to make way for new housing.

The Machargs facility (described by Sir Arnold as “the flagship of my company”) will contribute to the regeneration of the area by employing 200 people. 

Mazda is particularly strong in the region, accounting for 3% of the Scottish market compared with 2% for the UK as a whole.

The carmaker also has 40% of the non-premium sports car market in Scotland, and Glasgow is not short of people who buy into the image of the MX-5.

But Machargs’ business is not limited to the city itself.

“A lot of people from the islands phone us, do a deal and then come in and take the car away,” explains franchise manager Andrew Marshall. “And we get people coming up from England after finding us on the internet. Used cars are cheaper here than they are down south, and you can get a one-way air ticket to Glasgow for £20.”

At this early stage, nobody is making confident new car sales predictions. Marshall has “a wee sneaky feeling” that Mazda will outsell Ford, but estimates of actual Mazda figures range from 200 to 400 new cars per year.

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