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Bradford firm JCT drives up turnover despite hard times
Family-owned Bradford-based motors group JCT600 managed to lift sales last year in a market hit by austerity and falling consumer confidence, and company chiefs are braced for trading conditions to remain tough throughout 2012.
The Apperley Bridge-based business, which operates 48 dealerships, still managed to achieve a record turnover of £623 million, against £613 million in 2010. But tighter sales margins and significant capital investment costs squeezed pre-tax profits in the year to December 31, 2011, to £8.5 million from £12.3 million a year earlier.
Chief executive John Tordoff said the company bucked the trend in a year which saw new car registrations slump by 14.2 per cent and used vehicle sales drop by 0.4 per cent.
JCT600 increased sales of new cars by 1.3 per cent to around 8,500, while used car sales rose by four per cent at 13,000.
Mr Tordoff said: “We’ve achieved good results through working extremely hard. The first quarter started well but then the wheels fell off as consumer confidence fell away. We’ve had a good first quarter this year too but remain prepared for difficult trading conditions to continue in 2012.”
The group, which operates outlets across Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, and the North-East, made sizeable capital investments, including £330,000 in solar panel technology for power generation, £5 million in additional lease vehicle stocks to support the expansion of the JCT600 Contracts business, and £2.3 million in the property estate and IT systems. These hit profitability, but are expected to deliver increased returns and cost savings in future .
Mr Tordoff said: “We have seen margins hit with the cost of manufacturing, fuel and other overheads rising at the same time as we are feeling the impact of customers having less money in their pockets. However, overall we are pleased that our positioning and strategy has protected our turnover and returned a healthy profit after increased investment in staff training and IT systems that will benefit the business.”
JCT600’s servicing and repair operations also bucked the market average, increasing revenues by 1.1 per cent. The firm’s leasing division, JCT600 Contracts, increased sales by 1.3 per cent and grew its contribution to profits.
“We remain alert to increasingly-tight margins in the sector with rising vehicle costs and a fairly static level of consumer confidence suppressed spending power. We, like many other businesses in a variety of sectors, continue to work harder and operate in a more efficient way, but we maintain a focus on future strategy and investment in our core asset, our remarkable workforce,” said Mr Tordoff.
JCT600 has expanded through acquisitions in recent years, and Mr Tordoff said it remained in a position to do further deals in the a suitable oppotuniity arose in the right location.
JCT600 was launched in Bradford in 1946 by John’s grandfather, Edward Tordoff. His father, Jack, remains chairman of the group, which has become one of Yorkshire’s leading family-run businesses with around 1,350 employees.