OUR 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, along with Le Mans winners Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson.
Age 17, John joined Ford on a management training scheme, later joining the Ford dealership, Meadowfield Garage. John’s ambition to develop his own business ideas drove him to work with the legendary Paddy Hopkirk’s accessory business, later moving to Sports Tune Distributors in Edinburgh.
John then joined with motorsport contemporary Willie Crawford, developing a business that specialised in the sale of used sports cars, called Lothian Sports Cars [LSC].
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.
INTO THE FAST LANE
With BMW's Grampian franchise on board, John Clark Specialist Cars opened its doors in 1977. With a small but dedicated workforce, John built the business from the ground up selling just 6 new cars in the first year, over 100 in the second, and 200 in the third. In 1982, the business moved to a state-of-the-art showroom with a separate Bodyshop and PDI centre. Around this time and noticing the demand for small lifestyle 4x4 vehicles, a separate business was opened under the name of Tower Garage.
In 1986, John had begun his expansion out of Aberdeen with the acquisition of BMW car and motorcycle franchises for Dundee and Tayside. Around this time the business began to develop its now long-standing relationship with the Volkswagen Group, taking on both VW and Audi under the banner of Specialist Cars Aberdeen. In 1988, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Škoda were added, operating out a dealership in Cults, Aberdeen. Expansion in Aberdeen continued in 1994 with the opening of the £1.5m Autoplex, representing brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, and Hyundai.
In 1998, John Clark returned to his roots by opening Pentland Land Rover in Edinburgh, just a short distance from where it had all begun.
DRIVEN TO SUCCEED
The years that followed were a period of consolidation. 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, during this same period, joined the board of Aberdeen VSA.
2001 started with a new £1m Volkswagen dealership in Kirkcaldy. A year later came a flagship £2.2m BMW, MINI and BMW 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 Aberdeen complex, which was at the time the largest VW retail centre in Europe. The following year, the Group opened a new VW Van Centre in Aberdeen.
In 2005 a £4m investment saw the groups new flagship Audi dealership in Aberdeen, creating one of the largest Audi centres in the UK. In 2007 further investment led to a new Audi dealership open in Dundee. Further developments with SEAT in Aberdeen saw the Group representing the complete range of the Volkswagen Group's mainstream brands.
EXPANSION AND ACQUISITIONS
In 2007 Chris Clark returned to play a strategic part in the development and expansion of the family business. 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 Van & Commercial Vehicle business in Aberdeen. 2008 was also the year the group opened its Specialist Cars Volkswagen business in Dunfermline.
In 2010 the Group expanded its representation of the Škoda brand by taking on Škoda in Dundee, and later acquiring the Thomson & Potter Škoda business in Burrelton. 2011 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 thus increasing our Land Rover presence with the addition of dealerships in Perth & Cupar. Jaguar joined our portfolio for the very first time with new dealerships based in Edinburgh & Perth.
August 2015 saw the group acquire the Frank Ogg Land Rover business in Elgin. This was followed in 2016 with the Renault and Dacia businesses in Aberdeen, along with the opening of a Motorchoice business in Aberdeen.
ROYAL RECOGNITION & CONTINUED GROWTH
In 2016, John Clark pictured right 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 because of many years of hard work from those closest to him and the standards of customer service they have been able to provide.
In 2017 the acquisition of Morrisons Jaguar & Land Rover business in Stirling adding two further businesses to the Pentland Jaguar & Land Rover Division. In the same year, the group also saw their relocation and expansion of JLR at Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh. 2018 also saw the group complete a new build Jaguar & Land Rover dealership opening on Kings Cross Road, Dundee.
In 2018, the group further expanded with the acquisition of Murray Volvo in Edinburgh in March, followed by Barnetts Volvo in Dundee, adding yet another new and exciting brand to join the John Clark Motor Group portfolio.
Despite the challenges that 2020 presented, the group maintained their focus on continued growth with further expansion of Motorchoice, a dedicated used car supermarket arm of the business, and the CUPRA brand also joining the group.
THE STORY SO FAR
2021 saw the much-anticipated relocation of our John Clark BMW and BMW Motorrad Tayside business to its new purpose-built home on Kings Cross Road, while John Clark MINI Tayside underwent a full showroom upgrade, as Volvo Dundee moved into the former BMW Tayside site, which had been revamped and modernised. Nissan also made a move to an improved showroom at The Autoplex in 2022, while the Alpine brand moved in alongside Renault & Dacia.
In early 2023, Volvo Edinburgh moved to a brand new state of the art dealership in Newbridge, Edinburgh. Just along the road, our Pentland Land Rover Newbridge showroom also saw a refurbishment, with a new look and fresh interior, offering customers an enhanced Land Rover experience.
So, what is next for a group that has today grown to 37 businesses with an annual turnover of more than £910m, driven by over 1,300 employees?
Just as it has always done, John Clark Motor Group will pursue further expansion and development to remain at the forefront of the Automotive Industry in Scotland. Continued investment in our people moving forward is a key focus to maintain and enhance the exceptional customer service that is currently offered.
THE ROAD AHEAD
There is no doubting the John Clark Motor Group's commitment to the automotive industry in Scotland.
Ambitious and as determined as ever, we are driven to do even better while always staying true to our humble beginnings and key mission.
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. In previous years this has seen the group working in partnership with; Maggie's Cancer Care Centres in Aberdeen and Dundee, The Archie Foundation and Edinburgh Sick Children's Hospital.
We have partnered with Net Zero Group to further our sustainability strategy. This is focused on reducing Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and we’ve already started making changes such as choosing a green energy provider and kickstarting our installation of solar panels across the group.
Net Zero have also helped us to choose national and international projects for offsetting our carbon. These include investing in woodland in Grantown on Spey and Stirlingshire and working with international projects committed to stopping deforestation, the loss of habitats, and supporting communities in Keo Seima, Cordilera Azul, and Cikel. We are also committed to planting a tree for every colleague in the business.
So, what is next for the John Clark Motor Group? Watch this space for more news to come!
What will not change is our key mission:
“To deliver an exceptional experience that customers trust and advocate, by working together as a family.”