As indicators of a positive business culture go, a return-on-sales percentage which regularly outstrips that of staff turnover is hard to beat.
That’s exactly what Mark Mitchell can claim of the business he founded and now steers with an encouraging, philanthropic hand while fulfilling a role as his county’s High Sheriff – the Queen’s representative in the region – alongside a Deputy Lieutenancy.
Mapping out his approach to business at Mitchell Group’s multi-brand Mazda, Škoda and Lexus site at Cheshire Oaks in 2019, Mitchell told AM: “A happy team, all working for one another, is always going to be more productive.”
Sunday closing, a salary sacrifice scheme to support African children and the acquisition of a lodge at Snowdonia’s Brynteg to provide employees and their families with a free-to-use rural retreat all lie at the heart of the business’ caring philosophy which extends to staff and customers.
AM’s visit saw the recreation of a team photo taken for AM 10 years earlier, giving a visual representation of the 4% annual staff turnover which results from such a culture.
At the time Mitchell was returning to the business gradually following a brain haemorrhage which, he said, “put things into perspective”, but he added: “I love the business. I couldn’t walk away.”
In 2018, Mitchells achieved 4.36% return-on-sales (2017: 4.2%) as the business continued to improve on the near -4% figure posted a decade earlier.
The period saw turnover grow by 2.6%, to £49.49 million (2017: £48.24m), while pre-tax profit rose 6.5% to £2.16m (2017: £2.02m). The group’s gearing percentage has been 0% since 2016.
The results are all the more impressive because they exclude a tithe of more than £230,000 into charitable projects – a pledge made as a result of Mitchell’s Christian faith.
“Everyone in the business is aware that they work the last hour of every day to improve the life of someone less fortunate than themselves,” said Mitchell of the annual donation. “I think that brings my workforce an immense sense of well-being.”
2019: Mark Lavery, chief executive, Cambria Automobiles
2018: Darren Edwards, chief executive, Sytner Group
2017: Andy Bruce, chief executive, Lookers
2016: Gary Savage, chief executive, Mercedes-Benz UK
2015: Ray Sommerville, managing director, Perrys Motor Sales
2014: Eddie Hawthorne, chief executive, Arnold Clark Automobiles