Jenkins’s move to start his own business marked the end of the partnership which had run the dealership for 27 years, the loss of its only sales franchise and a drop in turnover from £30 million to £16 million.
It has since traded as a Renault and Vauxhall authorised repairer, used car sales operation and bodyshop, with an on-site petrol station and charter hire facility.
But managing director Mark James is actively seeking a new sales franchise, and has begun talks with several manufacturers to find a brand which fits with the dealership’s size and ethos.
The addition is expected to create 10 new jobs, and increase sales volume by 50% in the next 12 months.
“We’ve spoken to about a dozen franchises. We’re ready to drop a franchise in tomorrow, the resource is already here.
It’s exciting times for us and we’re keen to get on with it,” said James.
James & Jenkins Garages is best known locally as a Vauxhall retailer, a run which lasted 20 years.
It dropped the sales franchise in 2003 to become an authorised repairer and focus on its retail customers, which James said was a better fit with the business.
“We were doing 700 to 800 fleet sales per year under Vauxhall, 500 of which were to one daily rental company.
When we stripped it out we supplied 500 cars per year at £5-6 million pounds turnover, and were making about £20 per vehicle.
“The brave part is saying that we’re not going to do that any more.”
The dealership is located in a residential part of north Cardiff, and its long-standing presence in the area means it draws in most of its customers from within a five mile radius.
Sales this year are expected to total between 1,200 and 1,300 units from its 120 car display space.
Charter hire vehicles are returned to the forecourt as used stock, removing the need to buy from auction.
Despite its high stock turn the dealership never runs out of cars.
It’s a reduction compared to peak sales of 1,750, but the smaller scale allowed it to shed the extra costs of a 300 car warehouse.
James said the business has become leaner and more profitable.
He has no plans to move the business away from its home “among the chimneys” and into a larger facility elsewhere. #AM_ART_SPLIT#
“Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity,” he said.
“Getting bigger is easy, but making sure everyone is busy is the hard part.
We’re whacking overheads down and efficiency up, which is good for our bottom line.”
Sensible spending is an ethos which James extends to marketing.
The dealership supplies cars to Cardiff Future Blues rugby coaches, rather than players on the team.
This approach places dealership sponsored vehicles outside schools where the coaches work.
It’s a tie-in with the local community, and one which helps raise awareness of the business.
Click here to see the video interview with Mark James.