Dealer grows

Online channel helps Peoples hit 38-year record

Brian Gilda: ‘we remained confident’

Car dealer Peoples has shrugged off the impact of lockdown to record the strongest financial performance in its 38-year history.

An effective online sales channel provided a vital source of continuing business when showrooms were closed.

Profit before tax and preference share dividends for the year to the end of July was up 165% from £3.01m to £7.98m. Turnover rose by almost 20% to £289.5m.

Brian Gilda, chairman of the company – the largest independent dealership in Europe retailing only Ford cars and commercial vehicles – said motivated staff and loyal customers were key to delivering the record figures in a challenging climate.

He said: “Delivering these results in the face of the pandemic, fierce competition and diminishing volumes in certain sections of the market is testament to the determination of my directors, management and staff and the outstanding loyalty of our customers.

“This time last year we had just reopened our six dealerships after lockdown and our figures were predictably impacted. However, we remained confident we had a robust plan in place, and this year’s figures are testament to that as we surpass our pre-lockdown performance.

“We are also pleased to have avoided making any redundancies during the year by utilising the job retention scheme, and all staff with the exception of directors were awarded a £400 bonus as a thank you for their commitment and dedication.”

The company closely monitors changing consumer attitudes and behaviours and its omnichannel approach has been a crucial element of its success.

Mr Gilda explained: “Our online offering has been a game changer for the company as it has widened our customer base considerably.

“However, we recognise that people like dealing with people, particularly when making a sizeable purchase, so the ability to visit our dealerships to speak to a trusted adviser remains an important part of the sales journey.”

However, he said the company would not take its foot off the gas and acknowledged challenges remain ahead, particularly in relation to the semiconductor shortages which have affected manufacturers across the industry. He predicts ‘normality’ may not return until early next year.

In addition, Mr Gilda acknowledged there has been a plethora of new to market online used car traders, adding: “Time will tell whether they are all still here at this time next year.”

Peoples Group was founded in 1983 and has six dealerships – three in central Scotland in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Livingston and three in Liverpool.

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