THE UK’s first billionaire car dealer Sir Arnold Clark died this morning at the age of 89.
The founder of Europe’s largest privately owned car dealer group passed away peacefully while surrounded by his family.
Sir Arnold served as chairman and CEO of Arnold Clark for more than 60 years, having opened his first dealership in Glasgow in 1954.
He was recognised as one of the most successful car dealers in the UK and in 2015 was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Car Dealer Used Car Awards. In 2016, the Sunday Times Rich List named Sir Arnold the first car dealer to become a billionaire.
A statement released by his family this morning read: ‘Sir Arnold Clark passed away peacefully this morning, surrounded by his family.
‘He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and a great friend and employer to many. He was an inspiration and the family will continue to carry on his vision.
‘He will be greatly missed. We wish to thank all those who have sent messages of condolence and appreciate your kind support.
‘We ask for privacy at this difficult time to allow the family to grieve.’
Sir Arnold founded his company after leaving the RAF. He is said to have used his demob money to buy a Morris Ten Four for £70 then restoring it and selling it on for a profit.
He soon opened the first Arnold Clark showroom in Glasgow’s Park Road, going on to establish hire car schemes, repair centres, franchises and a car finance and insurance business over the next decades.
Sir Arnold, who was knighted by the Queen in 2004 for services to the motor industry as well as his community work across Scotland, opened his first site in England with a retail centre in Liverpool in 1994.
Among his numerous business honours, he also collected an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow in 2005.
A statement from the Arnold Clark Group described the founder as a ‘truly inspirational business leader and influential public figure’. It added: ‘His unsurpassed work ethic and strong family values led him to build a market-leading automotive retailer that continues to go from strength to strength.
‘Sir Arnold’s entrepreneurial ideals continue to be at the heart of the business. His personal philosophies will continue to inspire everybody who works in the business, and will be the cornerstone of its future growth and continuing success. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.’
The Arnold Clark Group is a sponsor of the fundraising charity Kiltwalk, and chief executive Paul Cooney paid tribute, saying: ‘Scotland has lost one of its greatest business figures and someone who embodied the ethos that business success should be used as a force for good in society.
‘Sir Arnold Clark and the organisation he built have been enormously supportive of Kiltwalk and the growth of the charity has been due in no small measure to the kindness and enthusiasm which they have shown towards us.
‘Our thoughts are with his family and his many, many friends at this difficult time.’