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Beadles profits down before car dealer's takeover by US giant Group 1 Automotive

By Chris Price

An historic car retailer has reported a fall in profits a month after it was taken over by a US motor giant.

Beadles, which traces its history to 1893, suffered a 12% decline in pre-tax profits to £2.6 million in the year to the end of March.

The figure comes from its first set of accounts filed at Companies House since its July takeover by Group 1 Automotive, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Beadles traces its history to 1893
Beadles traces its history to 1893

Its gross profit margin fell from 5.8% to 4.9%, while operating profit fell by 10% to £2.8 million.

However, the Dartford-based company did report a 20% increase in revenues to £289 million, predicting further growth this year as car buyers continue to enjoy access to cheap finance on new vehicles.

In his company report, finance director Tim Humphries said: “Market growth in new vehicle sales continues to be driven by the availability of low interest finance.

“This pattern looks set to continue throughout 2017 although the results of the UK vote to leave the European Union and the general election resulting in no overall majority has resulted in further weakening of sterling which may impact on supply and/or pricing in the UK.

“As expected, April 2017 saw a decline in registrations in the UK due to vehicle excise duty changes with a corresponding impact on new car margins.

"Market growth in new vehicle sales continues to be driven by the availability of low interest finance..." - Tim Humphries, Beadles

“We remain confident that despite the uncertainty around the issues above, the group’s results for 2017/18 will show further growth in both turnover and profitability.”

Beadles bought a Jaguar business in Sidcup from Lancaster plc in May last year. It later redeveloped its Land Rover site in the town to incorporate Jaguar, which was completed in August.

Mr Humphries said: “This redevelopment impacted on both the existing Land Rover business and the incoming Jaguar business as the building restrictions on site limited the available space.”

The company, which employs more than 500 people, sells Kia, Land Rover, Skoda, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen from 11 dealerships across Kent and south east London.

Beadles sells Volkswagen cars among its many franchises
Beadles sells Volkswagen cars among its many franchises

Its Volkswagen franchises in Dartford, Sevenoaks, Bromley and Maidstone increased turnover by 3% to £99.9 million. Operating profit in the division jumped 89% to £560,000.

Mr Humphries added: “We had a very strong first half of the year until the news broke of the Volkswagen emission test results in the United States.”

Its Jaguar Land Rover franchises in Sidcup and Southend boosted turnover by 58% to £110 million, while its Toyota franchises in Maidstone and Medway increased turnover by 5% to £31.6 million, giving it an operating profit of £1 million, up 8%.

Beadles comes from our founder John Clayton Beadle, who established the company as coachmaker’s in Lowfield Street Dartford in 1893. It began trading at Spital Street in Dartford in 1915, later moving to its present Volkswagen site in Princes Road.

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