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Has Ford put Arnold Clark on notice as part of plans to cut dealer network in half?

  • Arnold Clark rumoured to have been handed a two-year notice period
  • TrustFord believed to have been lined up to take over some of Arnold Clark’s Ford sites
  • All parties remaining tight-lipped when approached for comment by Car Dealer

Time 7:07 am, January 31, 2022

Ford of Britain is rumoured to be cutting back its retailer network in Scotland and is said to have given notice to the UK’s largest family-run dealer group.

A senior industry source has told Car Dealer the Blue Oval has drawn up plans to rationalise its representation north of the border and is calling time on some franchisees.

One of them is thought to be the UK’s most profitable dealer group, Arnold Clark, which is believed to have been handed a two-year notice.


Rumours suggest TrustFord – the trading name of Ford Retail and the world’s largest Ford dealer group – is being lined up to take over some of Arnold Clark’s Ford showrooms.

All parties remained tight lipped about the rumour when approached for comment by Car Dealer.

Arnold Clark has nearly 20 Ford outlets, which consist of standalone car sales sites, Transit Centres, dual-franchise ‘Motorstores’, and service centres.

When contacted by Car Dealer, a TrustFord spokesperson didn’t deny the rumours, simply adding: ‘TrustFord can only comment on sites within their own areas of influence and cannot speak about other territories or other dealer groups’ activities or plans.’


A Ford of Britain spokesman told Car Dealer that it would not discuss ‘contractual relationships with dealer partners’.

Arnold Clark has also been approached for comment, but has not yet responded.

The Scottish company is the UK’s largest independently owned dealer group and the most profitable.

It topped the Car Dealer Top 100 list of the most profitable dealers with an EBITDA profit of £354.2m for 2020.

TrustFord, meanwhile, finished 2020 by recording a £5.2m full-year loss, but turned this around by posting a £13.6m pre-tax profit for the first six months of 2021.

Its most recent accounts reveal the company is targeting a £2bn turnover in 2021.

The latest rumours appear dramatic, however Ford has got form for making seismic plans for its sales operation.

It’s nearly two years since the Blue Oval announced it was drawing up plans to cut its dealer network in half.

In a statement released in February 2020, the carmaker said it was set to slash its representation from 400 showrooms to between 210 and 230 by 2025.

At the time, Ford said it was ‘working together in a spirit of partnership’ with its dealers and their investors to build a ‘stronger and more sustainably profitable Ford sales and servicing network for the future’.

The goal was to create a network ‘which works for the mutual benefit of our businesses and for our commercial and passenger vehicle customers’.

And despite the cuts, Ford assured that dealerships would still be ‘within easy reach for the majority of our customers, with around 90 per cent of the population within a 30-minute drive of a Ford sales point’.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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