David Meek, who heads a dealer group he launched in Torquay 30 years ago, has taken decisive action by contracting his business to steer it through the coming recession.
“I have come through the previous two recessions – I know it’s no good waiting to see what happens,” said Meek.
“I fear for the motor trade in the short to medium-term, and believe it’s important to contract but stay positive. This recession is different because it has been caused by the incompetence of banks, and I see little prospect of a trading improvement before 2010.”
Meek has shut his standalone Chevrolet dealership and moved the franchise half-a-mile to his main premises in the Devonshire town, alongside Hyundai and Mitsubishi.
“I want to applaud the three manufacturers for supporting me in this restructuring,” said Meek.
“Car manufacturers are responsible for the profitability of their dealers, and my three have agreed to act together to help me.”
In the 2008-09 financial year, the David Meek Group’s turnover was £12 million – now he is budgeting for £7.5 million in 2009-10.
Early next year Meek will make a further saving by moving his standalone servicing and parts operation to a more modern facility – former British Gas premises – that he will rent close to his sales site.
Three of the original 35 staff, working in sales, have taken voluntary redundancy. Meek hopes he will be able to avoid further job cuts but believes the downturn could be the worst for 20 years.
Meek owns the aftersales premises he is vacating, and plans to sell them. “I don’t know though who will want to buy them at the moment,” he said.