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Franchised car dealers miss out on Times Top Track 250 2018

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Franchised car dealerships failed to make the grade in The Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table as it ranked Britain’s private mid-market growth firms by latest sales.

Stipulating an operating profit margin above 2% and a revenues 5% up on the previous year among the sub-£700m section of businesses, this year’s rankings failed to feature a single franchised retailer.

Harwoods Group was the top-placed AM100 operator to make the Top Track 250 last year, with a 6th-placed finish overall, in a ranking which also included Cornwall-based Helston garages in 11th.

Also among the familiar names within the top 50 companies in 2017’s Top Track 250 were Car Giant (19), Eastern Western Motor Group (20), Dick Lovett (31), Glyn Hopkin (33), Robinsons Motor Group (44) and Available Car (50).

Available Car was the top ranked car retailer in the 2018 listings – which was topped by Watches of Switzerland – and finished down one place in 51st.

The Castle Donington-based car supermarket generated a 7% increase in turnover in its latest accounts to9 £363.1m and a 25% increase in profit to £9.7m, The Sunday Times reported.

Third-ranked ID50 retailer Available Car, owned by husband and wife partnership Graham and Alison Bell, now has 5,000 in stock across sites in Cannock, Leeds, Sutton-in-Ashfield and Castle Donington.

The Trade Centre Wales (156th), Motordepot (211th) and Imperial Cars (222nd) were also included in the ranking, each featuring as a new entrant for 2018.

The Trade Centre Wales opened what it billed as “Europe’s largest used car showroom” in Coventry this year as part of growth plans outside its home territory of Wales.

The Top Track 250 recorded its revenues as £179m, up 68% on the prior year, with profits up 39% at £15.3m.

Fast-expanding Motordepot announced plans to open its ninth car supermarket site in Sheffield after a year which saw the Hessle-based operation open three new sites, in Barnsley, Newcastle and Worksop.

Motordepot’s latest revenues of £148m were 31% up on 2017, with profits up 30% at £7.2m.

Imperial Cars has also seen significant growth since the last Top Track 250 was published.

Imperial has set ambitious target of reaching 20 used car retail sites by the end of 2019 after growing from six to 11 sites in three years and generated a turnover up 22% at £142.4m and profits up 82% at £4.4m.

Director Neil Smith told AM that the Southampton-based independent car supermarket group had been able to leverage growth thanks to the value offered by showroom sites vacated by franchised operations which fallen foul of plans to shrink manufacturer’s UK networks or move retailers into larger, purpose-built facilities.

“Those sites cost between half a million pounds and £1 million to renovate”, said Smith. “We now have a far-more cost effective plan to grow the business.”

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