Lipscomb Cars is poised to open its new £5m Volvo dealership in Chartham this month following the easing of the coronavirus restrictions.
The showroom, near Canterbury, had been due to welcome customers in March, but delays with a permanent mains electric power connection followed by lockdown got in the way, with the final works cancelled by the network provider because they were non-essential.
In the meantime, Lipscomb continued operating from the existing Volvo site next to it, albeit with most of the sales staff furloughed.
With the lifting of work restrictions and a date now set for a permanent connection, the dealership will be in action by the end of June, finally bringing to fruition a 12-month development.
The new site boasts a large showroom, as well as a greater range of Volvo Selekt Approved Used models plus a bigger workshop.
Peter Barnes, managing director of Lipscomb Cars, said: ‘The development has not been without its challenges. We had to jump through countless hoops with the city council and Kent County Council highways department to gain planning permission in the first place, slowing our progress.
‘Then, with those issues resolved, the power connection and Covid-19 coming along made me wonder if it would ever happen, but there is ‘‘light at the end of the tunnel’’, as they say.’
Lipscomb Cars is also currently seeking planning permission to develop its Ashford Fiat/Abarth dealership into 64 flats for affordable housing, with a decision set to be made this month by Ashford Borough Council.
‘Ashford council are forward-thinking and can see the positives in this application, knowing it is not viable to redevelop for a modern car dealership of the future at this location,’ said Barnes.
‘We have been very open with the staff there and intend to relocate them to the current site at Chartham.’
Lipscomb Cars, which also has a showroom in Maidstone, had a turnover of £59.3m in 2019 but expects this to fall to £49.2m this year because of Covid-19 and its impact on car supply.
However, revenue for 2021 is forecast to increase to £63.7m as the market moves back to more normality.
Barnes said: ‘Until this pandemic hit us in late March we were running ahead of our plan. We have used this period to consolidate plans and are being very realistic in our approach to the future and our business forecast.
‘I fully expect us to surpass this re-forecast, given the increase in inquiries and business we have seen this month.’
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