ARNOLD CLARK has reported an increase in pre-tax profit of £6.9m to £113.5m – taking its net assets over the £1bn mark.
In the retailer’s annual report for 2018, chief executive and group managing director Eddie Hawthorne, pictured, said: ‘In what has been widely reported as a turbulent period for the motor industry and retail sector, I am pleased to report an excellent full-year performance for the group.’
He hailed the total equity figure of £1,021.7m – up from £938m in 2017 – as ‘a significant milestone for the group and a testament to the vision and hard work of our founder, Sir Arnold Clark’.
The Glasgow-based family-run business, which was established in 1954 and now has 200 dealerships across the UK, saw sales of new cars drop by 2.6 per cent to 68,344 units – hit by the new WLTP regulations, as well as bad weather forcing a number of its showrooms to shut for several days at what it described as ‘a critical time’. However, used car volumes rose by 9.5 per cent to 238,977.
It also saw group revenue increase by 7.8 per cent to £4.24bn.
During 2018, Arnold Clark opened four new Motorstore branches, took over administration-hit Kilmarnock Citroen, saving the jobs there, acquired the share capital of Crossflags (Motors) Ltd, and added tenanted dealerships in Solihull and Morecambe, while additional land and facilities were also acquired in Aberdeen, Stirling and at Crow Road Volkswagen in Glasgow. Meanwhile, two sites in Kemnay and Perth were offloaded.
Looking ahead, Hawthorne said: ‘With continued uncertainty around Brexit, we expect market conditions to continue to be challenging, with the SMMT forecasting a reduction in new car registrations of 2.3 per cent in 2019. As a group, we anticipate that we will feel some impact from this but this will be offset by modest underlying growth in the used car market.’
Paying tribute to the efforts and commitment of staff, he added: ‘On behalf of the board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication. I have no doubt that 2019 will be a significant year of change given the current political uncertainty. However, the group continues to have the financial strength to sustain it through such a volatile period and also to capitalise on the opportunities that will present themselves.’