Car sales

People’s sees ‘modest’ growth after record year

Brian Gilda
Brian Gilda: ‘we must be realistic’

Independent Ford retailer Peoples has reported record profits but warned that growth in the current year will be more modest.

The company saw pre-tax profits for the year to the end of July soar to an all-time high of £8.48m, up 6.2% on the previous year.

Turnover dipped by 4.8% to £275.6m but there was a return on sales of 3%, reflecting a strong performance that puts it in the upper quartile of results for retailers in the sector.

Commercial vehicle sales were up by 2%, a standout performance compared with the UK market average which saw a significant decline of 24.2%.

Brian Gilda, who chairs the largest independent dealership in Europe retailing only Ford cars and commercial vehicles, said the results demonstrated the company’s strength and resilience in the face of the industry’s product supply challenges.

He said the current financial year had begun strongly, though he added a note of caution.

“Pre-tax profit for August, September and October are up 61% on the same period last year,” he said.

“However we must be realistic – headwinds are coming and we need to be prepared. The semiconductor shortages are expected to continue into 2023, and in addition to this we cannot ignore the current economic situation and consumer confidence which will inevitably have an impact on the industry as a whole.

“We therefore anticipate that growth in the coming year will be more modest, but along with the loyalty of our customers, we have a first-class team of directors, management and staff whose tireless commitment will help us to navigate these challenges.”

Commenting on last year’s performance, he said: “Despite the worldwide shortage of semiconductors which has affected both our vehicle volumes and turnover, our relentless focus on pursuing real business opportunities alongside stronger margins have allowed us to achieve record profits.

“During the financial year we established a new seven-person operational board which is more diverse and is tasked with ensuring we remain nimble and agile in this challenging market, and this has been key in delivering our best results in 39 years.

“We are particularly proud of our stand-out performance in commercial vehicle sales which bucked the UK trend.

“The Transit brand continues to outsell every other commercial vehicle in the UK and European market, and its popularity, coupled with the fact we have a team of exceptional commercial vehicle specialists, are a winning combination.”

He believes the ever-growing appetite for hybrid vehicles will extend to EVs as charging infrastructure continues to improve. In anticipation of this the company has invested a six-figure sum installing electric chargers across its dealerships which will allow it to increase the number of EVs in its fleet in future.

Regarding Ford’s decision to discontinue producing the iconic Ford Fiesta after 47 years, he said: “It’s the end of an era – so many people have had one at some point, myself included. But while it’s with nostalgia that I say goodbye to an old friend I’m excited and encouraged by the future lineup.”

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