Liverpool sites help fuel record performance for independent Ford dealership

Brian Gilda

Motor dealer group Peoples has recorded the strongest financial performance in its 38-year history, aided by its three Liverpool sites.

Turnover increased by almost 20% to £289.5m while profit before tax and preference share dividends was up 165% from £3.01m to £7.98m.

Brian Gilda, chairman of the company which is 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.”

He added: “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.

Gilda said: “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.”

He said the automotive industry is dependent on the desirability of the product and feel-good factor, and said it is a “joy” for Peoples to sell leading edge product like the all-new Electric Mustang Mach E, Puma, Focus and Fiesta as well as the popular commercial vehicle range led by the Transit and Ranger Raptor.

However, he 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.

He also referenced 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.

The Liverpool bases accounted for 63.35% (£183.4m) of Peoples’ turnover during this financial reporting period.

The group employs 363 people, 57% of whom are based in Liverpool at Bootle, Prescot and Speke.

Brian Gilda said: “As the figures demonstrate, our Liverpool business is deeply significant to the overall success of the Peoples Group.

“Our success in Liverpool has centred on ensuring the local store infrastructure, along with technology and exceptional customer service are at the core of our delivery to help continue to drive success. Peoples is a growth company with a long history in Liverpool and we look forward to continuing to grow here.”

Liverpool-based sales director, Jeff Newton, said: “As a business firmly embedded in communities across Liverpool we believe it is vital that we continue to give back.

“During the pandemic we have made our fleet of cars and vans available to community organisations and charities, free of charge, fuelled and ready to go. Organisations which have benefitted include Cycling Projects, Liverpool Supper Club, New Beginnings – Improving Lives, KIND, RASA Merseyside, Children Social Care Liverpool and the NHS Covid Track and Trace Team at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.”