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Looking at Arnold Clark today, it’s hard to imagine that it all started with just a single showroom located in Glasgow. Amazingly, even after over 60 years in the motor industry, they are still an independently owned and family-run company.
It all started with a 1933 Morris Ten-Four. After a young Arnold Clark leaves the Royal Air Force in the early 50s, he finds himself without work, however still with leftover money from leaving the RAF, he decided to buy a Morris Ten-Four for £70. After restoring the vehicle to its former glory, he resold it and made his first profit. He continued restoring vehicles until he opened his first showroom in 1954.
In under 10 years the company expanded, but not only in the number of showrooms. They also launched a finance company, won their first contract hire deal and opened an accident and repair centre.
In the 70s the number of dealerships continued to increase, notably they opened a multi-site complex in Mount Vernon bringing in more brands such as Jaguar and Land Rover into their franchises. In 1979 they were the first Scottish retailer to make a franchise partnership with Renault and after just one year they were already their largest dealer in Scotland.
Already a well-known and established dealership for three decades, Arnold Clark made further dealership acquisitions with their purchase of Macharg, Rennie and Lindsay as well as Ron Hutcheson Motors Group in 1988. By the end of this period, it had taken their total number of employees to 1,300.
Home to six franchises (Ford, SEAT, ŠKODA, Toyota, Vaxhaull and Volkswagen), their Linwood site opened in the 90s. The mid 90s were a remarkably busy time for the company. They crossed the border to open their first retail site in Liverpool in 1994 and acquired ten more dealerships in 95.
Not only a well-known name across Scotland, by the 2000s Arnold Clark had also established itself as a national car retailer with a notable presence across Britain and the company’s focus was on their growth in the English market. All those decades of success didn’t go unnoticed by the business or wider community. Arnold Clark was awarded Businessman of the Year Award by Insider Elite as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Business Awards.
The awards and recognition only increased, with 2004 undoubtedly being an unforgettable year for Arnold Clark both personally and professionally. Fifty years after opening his first showroom, the man himself became Sir Arnold Clark. This knighthood was given to him in recognition of his services to the motor industry and his contribution to the Scottish community.
Sixty years after it all began, the company was reaching a turnover of almost 3 billion by 2014. Arnold Clark himself then 86 years old was still the chairman and remained so until he passed away in 2017, aged 89.
Today the company sells new cars from 25 different manufactures, has 200 dealerships, 150 service centres, 40 accident repair centres and 13 parts centres. Aside from selling and servicing they also have 37 car and van rental locations, 3 state-of-the-art training facilities and 6 ACVM vehicle leasing business centres and provide finance and insurance services.
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