MARSHALL Motor Holdings might have had a very busy 2019 – but the bosses of the company aren’t planning on putting their feet up any time soon.
Marshall, the seventh largest motor dealer group in the UK with 119 franchised dealerships representing 24 brand partners, published its financial results for 2019 this morning, revealing record revenue of £2.3bn and £33.1m operating profit.
Total new unit sales, like for like, grew by 0.3 per cent against a market decline of 2.4 per cent – an achievement CEO Daksh Gupta described as ‘stellar’. Like-for-like new retail sales, although down two per cent, again outperformed the market.
Looking at Marshall’s performance in the round, Gupta, speaking to Car Dealer Magazine today, described the results as ‘really strong when you consider the wider market’.
He added: ‘We had strong outperformance against the market against all of our key operational metrics: the total new market, retail, new fleet and used cars – so a clean sweep across the board, which is excellent.
‘Our used car performance was absolutely stand-out again, which is pleasing. Like-for-like units were up 6.1 per cent – a significant out-performance of the market and building on consecutive years of record results.
‘Every year we say we can’t maintain this momentum but we seem to keep doing it, which is great! We also invested £31.6m in 20 new businesses – that helped our revenues get to £2.3bn, which is a record for the group. And on a like-for-like basis, revenues were up for a fifth successive year, and that was another pleasing result given the market conditions.’
Like-for-like operating profit was £33.1m – down four per cent. Gupta said: ‘I was slightly disappointed personally – it’s the first year as CEO that I’ve not delivered a record – but in the context of the market, we thought that was an excellent result.
Asked about the mix of manufacturers Marshall represents across the UK, Gupta said: ‘One of the reasons we have the portfolio that we do is that brands are cyclical. The example I like to give is Peugeot.
‘Peugeot in the mid-2000s had a market share of about eight per cent but then dropped to about four and now they’re recovering and doing a fantastic job. All brands do this. All brands go up and down, and that’s why we have a balanced portfolio in the way that we do.’
Turning to the company’s 2019 expansion, he said: ‘We spent £31.6m on acquisitions, adding 20 new businesses – it was very busy.
‘We added two Honda businesses, which we acquired from Jardine in Reading and Newbury – it’s a great territory and they are markets we already know very well as we are represented there with the former Ridgeway businesses. We’re number two for Honda – we’ve got good scale there with eight locations.
‘We acquired our ninth Volvo dealership – in Derby – from Vertu. That cements our number-one position for that brand and we will probably do around 10 per cent of their UK volumes now.
‘But the most notable growth was with Volkswagen Group. Not only were we awarded an open point in Lincoln, but we were also busy with the multiple acquisitions that we did to add 14 Volkswagen Group franchises.
‘As a result of those additions, Marshall is now the largest UK partner for Volkswagen Group. I’m really pleased about that, because we only took our first Volkswagen Group franchise in 2012 and it demonstrates the strength of the relationship we have with the Volkswagen Group.
‘Part of our strategy is partnering with the right brands in the right markets, and I’ve got absolutely no doubt that when you look at the investments these companies are making into future electrification and mobility solutions, that Volkswagen Group will be among the winners. They’re investing 66 billion euros. Nobody else can get anywhere near that level and that’s why I’m super-excited to be partnering with them.’
Did he have any message for Marshall’s dealer principals and sales teams in the context of 2019’s results?
‘The message to the dealers is look – you can’t control what’s happening in the wider market, you can’t control what’s happening with coronavirus, you can’t control what’s happening with Brexit-related trade negotiations.
‘What you’ve got to do is focus on what’s important. Treat your people really well, focus on inquiry management every single day and do the basics brilliantly well. The number-one thing is mindset.’
And will 2020 be as busy as 2019 proved to be? He added: ‘We are reviewing acquisition opportunities all the time, but we will only pursue these where it makes strategic and financial sense for our shareholders. Last year was another statement of intent – that intent has been there for many, many years. I’m certainly not planning on putting my feet up!’