Car dealer Arnold Clark posts annual sales of £3.6bn

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Arnold Clark dealership in GlasgowImage source, Arnold Clark

Car dealer and rental firm Arnold Clark topped £3.6bn of sales during last year, although new car sales fell.

The independent motor firm saw 9.2% growth in turnover in the last full year before the death of its founder.

Sir Arnold Clark died in April, aged 89, having founded the business in Glasgow in 1954.

At the time of his death, the company had 170 retail outlets, with franchises for 24 motor manufacturers, and about 11,000 staff.

Accounts published by Companies House, covering the 2016 calendar year, reported £3.66bn of revenue, with cost of sales rising to more than £3bn.

The company said the rise in revenue was "despite the uncertainty caused in the UK by the vote to leave the European Union".

Pre-tax profits were up from £110m to £125m.

Image source, Arnold Clark Automobiles
Image caption,
Company founder Sir Arnold Clark died in April this year

Sales of used cars and other vehicles were up 13% to 198,000, while new car sales fell 4% to 80,000 vehicles.

A key part of the business is Arnold Clark Finance, including the daily rental business. In what the accounts describe as a "difficult trading year for the contract hire industry", revenue in that subsidiary fell 2% to £547m. Pre-tax profit was also down from £15m to £12.5m.

Last year the group continued to expand, buying Volkswagen dealerships in Stirling and Bathgate.

It expanded in England, adding a tenanted dealership in Oldsbury in the West Midlands, with plans to spread its Motorstore concept in Nottingham, York and Wakefield in Yorkshire.

Chief executive Eddie Hawthorne wrote in the accounts that 2017 market conditions looked "challenging", with ongoing Brexit negotiations.

He said: "We anticipate that the new car market will remain relatively flat, with modest underlying growth in the used car market."

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