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Tough trading conditions mean near flat performance from bodyshop group

Just Car Clinics saw sales grow by 8.6% to £46.54 million in 2010 although gross margin dropped from 41% to 40.2% in the period.

Much of the bodyshop group's revenue growth was driven by recent acquisitions – like-for-like growth was 1.8%.

Pre-tax profit reduced by £47,000 to £1.11m, and the group warned this morning it does not expect a significant improvement in profits in 2011, due to the tough market conditions.

Chief executive Barry Whittles described the 2010 performance as “solid results against a difficult market backdrop.”

He said it was no surprise that margins came under pressure, partially due to the variability of repair volumes through the year, affected by reduced road usage and price pressure from many corporate clients, plus the extreme weather conditions which can disrupt operations.

JCC has found the economic climate has left many retail customers reluctant to have smaller repairs done to avoid their insurance excess payments.

“The group responded to the underlying market conditions by extending the range of services offered to customers, with tyre replacement, general vehicle maintenance and servicing now available at all locations.

"In addition mobile accident repair services are now offered at a regional level, allowing customers to have minor repairs carried out at their home,” he added.

Whittles said proactive control of operating costs remains central to the group's profitability and all structures and costs are continually reviewed.

As a result operating costs were reduced to 37.8% of sales (2009: 38.2%).

The year saw JCC acquire two new bodyshops, in Keighley and Northampton, for a total of £68,000.

The group plans to optimise performance at these two loss-making additions.



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