Gates Waltham Abbey, Apr 2023Gates Waltham Abbey, Apr 2023


Ford dealer group Gates sees pre-tax profit top £8.8m

  • Gates Group posts profit before tax of £8.83m
  • That was 0.6 per cent up on year before
  • Turnover at Ford chain was up by almost two per cent to £197.6m
  • Staff are seen as organisation’s ‘most valuable asset’
  • Says it’s ready to embrace agency model as and when it arrives
  • But it’s keeping an eye out for other franchise potential to offset any possible risk

Time 8:14 am, September 3, 2023

New and used Ford dealer Gates enjoyed a modest increase in pre-tax profit last year to just over £8.8m.

In its accounts for the year ended December 31, 2022, which have just been filed with Companies House, Gates Group said it made £8,830,592 versus £8,781,548 the year before – a 0.6 per cent rise.

That was on a turnover of £197,579,051, which was 1.9 per cent up on 2021’s figure of £193,875,813.

In the accompanying report, signed on behalf of the board by director Heath Greenall, the company said it was ‘very pleased by the financial performance of the group during the year, despite the ongoing challenges faced in the automotive industry and the volatility of the UK economic environment’.

The directors pointed out there had been an ‘exponential upsurge in the costs of utilities, labour and borrowing’, which had a knock-on effect on group overheads.

But they said the workforce was ‘the most valuable asset in our organisation’, and pay rises had been brought in despite cost pressures in order ‘to help soften the burden of the cost-of-living crisis, improve staff retention and recruitment, and thank…colleagues for rising to the challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic’.

Changes to working hours and patterns were also brought in alongside flexi-working to improve staff work-life balance.

Ahead of closing its Bishop’s Stortford branch, the existing operation was transferred to its Harlow dealership, with a new lease property found for its regional PartsPlus wholesale branch.

The directors said they also ‘took advantage of an excellent opportunity to terminate the lease of the Enfield property ahead of the term expiration’, moving the business to a freehold property it owned in Waltham Cross, pictured above via Google Street View, and which opened in January 2023.

In addition, the group bought two more investment properties during the year, taking the total value of its investment in freehold property to £11m.

New vehicle sales volumes rose by seven per cent, but lack of used vehicle stock meant sales volumes in that sector were down by 23 per cent.

Gross margin, meanwhile, rose by a percentage point to 15 per cent.

The directors noted that Ford had been piloting the agency sales model in the Netherlands, which is to be rolled out across the European dealer network, but said they’d monitor developments, get to grips with the implications and prepare Gates ‘to embrace this change and mitigate any potential risks to the business’.

However, they also seemed to fire a shot across Ford’s bows by adding: ‘We regularly explore other franchise opportunities to mitigate the risk of sole manufacturer dependency and extend our range of vehicles.’

Gates, which has Ford showrooms and Transit Centres across Hertfordshire and Essex, was founded in 1920 by Frank G Gates – a former World War I army officer – aided by his father, who was also called Frank.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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