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Arnold Clark reports record turnover - and increase in profits

Sir Arnold Clark

Arnold Clark Automobile’s turnover in 2015 reached a record high of £3.35 billion, an increase of 2.2% on the year before, with operating profit also up by £2.1 million to £121.7m.

Helping to drive the performance was the “exceptional” growth, of 10.8%, in used vehicle sales to 175,526 units (2014: 158,384).

The opening of new sites helped this, but the AM10 dealer said like-for-like sales were up 7.9%.

However, new vehicle sales fell by 8.4% in the year, to 83,813 (91,477) due to “a large fleet contract that was not renewed due to the significant amount of working capital tied up” in it.

Arnold Clark Finance, the vehicle management and daily rental business posted a turnover increase of 10.7% to £559.2m although profit before tax fell by £3.8m to £15.5m. 2014 was described as an exceptional year because of business generated on the back of major sporting events in Scotland.

Group acquisitions in 2015

In January it bought a Vauxhall dealership in West Lothian, a second in March in East Kilbride

In February Arnold Clark made its largest acquisition of the year, Ness Motors, with more than 100 staff and sites in Inverness, Perth and Elgin.

April: Hobin of Preston, that operated a Seat garage in Preston

May: a Seat dealership in Newcastle

May: Midwest Motor Factors with six sites and 80 staff based in the West Midlands

October: a used car outlet in Burton upon Trent rebranded as under the Motorstore franchise

December: two further Motorstore sties were opened in Chesterfield and Wigan

December: a controlling stake in Assure Alarms in East Kilbride.

Arnold Clark staff went up from an average of 9,184 in 2014 to 9,887 in 2015. It was number four in the spring AM100.

2016 outlook

On 2016, chairman Sir Arnold Clark (pictured) said: “We expect the new car market will remain static, with used cars experiencing similar growth to 2015.

“Funding remains in place to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise and to overcome any market volatility.

“Early trading results have been very promising and our strategic objectives remain unchanged, namely focusing on customer experience, product availability and widening the geographic footprint of the group.”

Sir Arnold also paid tribute to his brother-in-law, board member and “dear friend and colleague” Hugh Wallace who died in 2015: “Hugh was instrumental in developing Arnold Clark Vehicle Management and his wit, generosity of spirit and wise counsel are sorely missed.”

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