John Clark £1.7m in the black 07 | 10 | 2010

    ABERDEEN-BASED John Clark Motor Group has reported an upturn in its operating profit from £1.8 million to £2.8m in its latest financial results. The company's pre-tax profit of £1.7m is a significant improvement on last year's loss of £480,000. Falling interest rates and tighter cost controls at its east of Scotland showrooms helped it to reverse last year's loss.

    “Following a period of expansion and acquisition in 2008, our primary focus through 2009 was to react to the mix of challenges and opportunities that resulted from the recession," John Clark, chairman and managing director of the group, said.

    “The unprecedented economic downturn in the second half of 2008 continued into early 2009. We implemented measures aimed at stabilising the group during those difficult times. This meant we were able to minimise an unfortunate but essential reduction in staff numbers.”

    John Clark — which has 14 dealerships in Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunfermline, Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy, and represents manufacturers including BMW, Mini, Land Rover, Audi, VW and Seat — is Scotland’s fourth largest motor group with 640 employees.

    The company reported that its new vehicle sales for 2009 were ahead of budget.

    But, reflecting the trend in the wider marketplace, sales were 10% down on the record levels it attained in 2007 and 2008. Used vehicle sales during 2009 increased by 12%.

    The group didn’t see a massive benefit from the scrappage scheme due to its prestige franchise representation. The VAT reduction to 15% was beneficial for John Clark, but only to a limited extend.

    “The outlook for the rest of 2010 and into 2011 remains challenging," Clark admitted. "But our mid-year results were again ahead of budget. We shall continue to focus strongly on growth in aftersales services, operating cost levels and working capital controls.

    “With a stronger balance sheet, thanks to the group's return to profit and the reduction in our borrowings, I believe we are in a good position to take advantage of future opportunities.”

    During 2009 the John Clark Motor Group’s BMW dealership in Dundee was refurbished to the latest franchise standards and a new showroom constructed for Mini.

    Future developments include expansion with Land Rover in Edinburgh and the group is opening a new Specialist Cars Skoda dealership on Dundee’s Kingsway East.

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    Jim McGill

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