THE JOHN CLARK MOTOR GROUP STORY



THE JOURNEY BEGINS

John Clark was born in Edinburgh in 1947.

He grew up close to the Edinburgh base of the Le Mans winning Ecurie Ecosse, making him familiar with famous drivers such as Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, plus Le Mans winners Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson.

At 17, John joined Ford on a management training scheme, later joining the Ford dealership, Meadowfield garage.

His ambition to develop his own business ideas drove him to work with the legendary Paddy Hopkirk accessory business, later moving to Sports Tune Distributors in Edinburgh.

John then joined with motorsport contemporary Willie Crawford, developing a business specialising in the sale of used sports cars, called Lothian Sports Cars.

Success with LSC brought expansion, moving to new premises in Meadowbank and acquiring franchises for Reliance Scimitar GTE and Lotus products. By 1970, Aston Martin had also been added.

In 1972, Lothian Sports Cars opened in Aberdeen's Broomhill Road, with John becoming sole owner at this location.


Lothian Sports Cars
John Clark Motor Group

INTO THE FAST LANE

With BMW's franchise for Grampian on board, John Clark Specialist Cars opened its doors in 1977. With a small but dedicated workforce, John built the business up from selling just 6 new cars in the first year, to over 100 in the second, and 200 in the third.

In 1982, the business moved to a state of the art premises with separate body shop and PDI centre. At a similar time, noticing the demand in the market for small lifestyle 4x4 vehicles, a separate business was opened under the name of Tower Garage.

By 1986, John had begun his expansion out of Aberdeen with the acquisition of the BMW car and motorcycle franchises for Dundee and Tayside. This is also when the business started to develop its now long standing relationship with the Volkswagen Group, taking on both Volkswagen and Audi under the banner of Specialist Cars in the centre of Aberdeen.

In 1988, Mitsubishi and Suzuki were added, along with Skoda, operating out of a full services dealership in Cults, Aberdeen.

Expansion continued in 1994 with the opening of the £1.5m Autoplex in Aberdeen, representing brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, Hyundai and Suzuki.

In 1998, John Clark returned to his roots by opening Pentland Land Rover in Edinburgh, just a short distance from where it had all began.

DRIVEN TO SUCCEED

The years that followed were a period of consolidation with the focus on performance and a determination to succeed winning accolades, such as Automotive Management Dealer Group of the Year. 

It was also an era of greater commitment to corporate social responsibility. Following long term support for the Saving Sight Charity in Grampian, John Clark also redoubled his support for the Princes Trust, the PSYBT, the Princess Royal Trust for carers, and joined the board of Aberdeen VSA.

The groups next five year plan started in 2001 with the new £1m Volkswagen dealership in Kirkcaldy and a year later, a flagship £2.2m BMW, MINI and motorcycle centre in Aberdeen. That same year, John's achievements were recognised as he won runner up in Ernest Young's Scottish Business Entrepreneur awards. In 2003, in partnership with Volkswagen, £3m was invested in Specialist Cars new Aberdeen complex, which was at the time the largest VW retail centre in Europe. The following year, the Group opened a new Volkswagen LCV centre in Aberdeen.

In 2005 the group made a further £4m investment in its flagship Audi dealership in Aberdeen, creating one of the largest Audi new and used centres in the UK. In 2007 further investment with Audi saw a new dealership and body shop open in Dundee. Further developments with SEAT in Aberdeen saw the Group representing the complete range of the Volkswagen Groups mainstream brands.

In 2007 Chris Clark returned to play a strategic part in the development and expansion of the family business.

Expansion, Acquisitions and Royal Recognition

In the years that followed, John Clark Motor Group continued with rapid expansion and numerous new business acquisitions. 2008 saw the acquisition of Clark Commercials – a well established specialist Van and Commercial Vehicle business in Aberdeen. 

In 2010 the Group expanded its representation of the Skoda brand by taking on Skoda in Dundee, and later acquiring the Thomson & Potter Skoda business in Burrelton.

2011 also saw the Group acquiring the whole of the Edinburgh territory for Land Rover with the commitment to develop a new flagship site for the franchise in the City, which was delivered in January 2012 followed by the Nissan franchise in Aberdeen in early September.

2013 saw one of the biggest acquisitions in the Group's history with the purchase of four businesses from Pendragon PLC. That deal saw us increase our Land Rover presence with the addition of dealerships in Perth & Cupar & Jaguar also joined our portfolio of brands for the very first time with new dealerships based in Edinburgh & Perth.

In 2016, John Clark pictured left with son Chris and daughter Victoria, was awarded an OBE in recognition of his achievements in business, charity and Scottish Motor sport. Humble to this day John Clark OBE believes this was only made possible as a result of many years of hard work from those closest to him and the standards of customer service they have been able to provide within the Group.

THE ROAD AHEAD

So what is next for a group that has today grown to 33 businesses with an annual turnover in excess of £700m, driven by over 1200 employees?

Just as it has always done, John Clark Motor Group will pursue further expansion and development in order to remain at the forefront of the Automotive Industry in Scotland. Continued investment in our people moving forward is a key focus for the Group to maintain and enhance the exceptional customer service that is currently offered.

Victoria Clark, our Group Charity Coordinator, continues to build upon the tremendous contributions to good causes offered by John Clark Motor Group in recognition of the importance of giving back to the communities we serve. John Clark Motor Group is honoured to be working in partnership with The Archie Foundation in Aberdeen and The Edinburgh Sick Kids Foundation.

In 2016 the John Clark Motor Group was named as a UK Top 20 and European Top 30 Motor Trade Group and also listed in the Sunday Times Top Track 100 2016 (Based on 2015 turnover). Ambitious and determined as ever, we are driven to do even better while always staying true to our humble beginnings and key mission;

“To deliver an exceptional experience that customers trust and advocate, by working together as a family.”