Arbury Group has formalised Paul Goodwin’s position as managing director as the business targets 2.5% return on sales and growth with four new franchised outlets.
Goodwin insisted that formal titles “never bother me”, but the Bromsgrove-based, eight-site retail group moved to name the former operations director in the top role after former managing director David Stenning moved into an executive director role.
Now the group has announced plans to follow-up its projected turnover of £116 million and return-on-sales figure of 2% during 2017 with the addition of another retail site and ambitions to grow profitability.
Goodwin told AM: “There are areas in which we can cut costs, I’ve challenged my team to save £100,000 across the year – which amounts to just over £1,000 per site or £250 per department, per month – and I think that’s achievable simply through looking at basic cost cutting measures such as energy usage.
“There is profitability in paint protection and other add-ons which can also make a huge difference.
“I’m confident that we can push 2.5% return on sales in 2018.”
Arbury Group currently represents Citroen, Fiat, Nissan, Peugeot, Seat and Skoda and is poised to add another Seat location, according to Goodwin, who has plans to grow the group from eight to 12 sites by the end of 2019.
In 2017 the group sold 4,796 new cars, a 3% decline on 2017, and 3,961 used vehicles, which represented a 14% increase in business, according to Goodwin.
He said: “Last year was a very mixed bag, of course, but I think it did us good. After an amazing Q1, Q2 really was tough and caused us to look at all our costs.
“Manufacturer demands on staff and premises were really becoming too onerous and we were thankful that our partners really stepped back and agreed that it was time to address those issues and start looking really closely at costs within the business.
“Cost control will continue to be an important area. As long as things remain in the interests of the business and the customer we need to cut out any unnecessary outlay.”
Goodwin said that there had been no concentrated drive to follow the trend set by the AM100’s “super group’s” and expand Arbury’s used car operation unduly last year, stating that he felt the business could effectively work its relatively small market area with approximately 50 cars per site.
He said: “It’s clear that 2018 will present challenges but I remain positive and we are really focussed on driving the growth of the group with our existing partners. The premium sector is well out of our reach, but I think our brands will go from strength-to-strength for us.”
Goodwin, who joined the Arbury business in 2004 when he invested money in a move from Rydale BMW, knew fellow shareholders and business founders David Stenning and Neil Barrett from a time when they were colleagues at Evans Halshaw.
He described his investment in the group, four years after its formation by the pair, as “the best thing I’ve ever done”.
Goodwin said: “There was a little heartbreak in leaving Rydale as they were one of the best employers I’ve ever had, a really good organisation, but being at Arbury has been fantastic.
“I still love dealing with customers, seeing their reaction when they come to collect a car, and that passion to deliver a really good experience is what I’d really like to filter down into the team here.”
Arbury currently employs 262 staff and Goodwin claims that his ambition is to ensure that Arbury is known as the best employer in the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire as well as driving profitability.
“We have to be able to enjoy ourselves and be profitable,” he said.