Listed bodyshop chain Just Car Clinics (JCC) has acquired an accident repair centre in Hull, taking its total network to 23 repair centres.
The acquisition, from Fiat franchised dealer Jordans, marks the start of a new venture for the group.
Alongside JCC’s usual operations, the site will be the launchpad of a Just Van Repair brand to target fleets and local business users with light commercial vehicles.
If it proves successful, Just Van Repair may roll out to another two or three locations next year.
JCC has begun adding a retail focus alongside its insurer-paid crash repair business.
A group-wide roll out of SMART repair services is in the early stages, aimed at bringing more retail customers into the business and driving up profitability.
In the first six months of 2008 the group achieved record turnover and pre-tax profits, up 16.8% to £21.2 million and 16.6% to £647,000 respectively.
The Jordans’ operation is the group’s third acquisition this year. The site is based 100 yards from JCC’s existing Hull branch on Clarence Street, which is already operating at capacity.
The premises will help take on extra repair volumes for JCC’s territory, including its existing approvals with CIS, Norwich Union and RSA.
It will also specialise in commercial vehicle repairs under the Just Van Repair brand and prepare used vehicles for local dealers.
Barry Whittles, JCC chief executive, said Jordans was keen to sell in order to focus its investment on its motor retail operations.
The bodyshop will need a £40,000 refurbishment in order to meet JCC and BSI Kitemark standards, which is expected to be completed within six weeks.
Whitles added: “Most of the growth in the first half of the year has come from the new sites we’ve added. While we’re an expanding group, we’re going to do it cautiously. We won’t risk the operating model we have just to grow.”
Expansion before year end
Now at 23 locations with this year’s Swindon, Banbury and Hull acquisitions, Whittles wants to take his network to 25 sites before the end of this year.
His medium-term plan is for 40 bodyshops by 2010, with a greater national spread.
JCC has good coverage in the north of England but it is Whittles’ intention to defend its position as the second largest independent in the UK bodyshop industry.
This is reflected by his decision to boost JCC’s regional management team from two to three in order to make it easier to cover bodyshops towards the south of England.
Overall employee numbers have now grown from 376 to 620 since the com-pany’s inception in 2003, and the group handles more than 40,000 repairs annually.