Since its launch in 1954, Arnold Clark Automobiles has grown to become Europe's largest privately owned car retailer, selling in excess of 250,000 vehicles per year and generating an annual turnover of over £3 billion.
Arnold Clark Automobiles is founded when a young Arnold Clark leaves the Royal Air Force and uses his demob money to buy a Morris Ten Four for just £70. After restoring the car to its former glory, he sells it on for a profit, and from there, he begins to buy and sell cars. He soon opens the first Arnold Clark showroom in Glasgow’s Park Road.
Three more garages are purchased by Arnold Clark – in Bothwell Street (Glasgow), Paisley and Bearsden. In 1963, the finance arm of the company (Arnold Clark Finance Limited) is launched. Soon, Arnold Clark Automobiles extends into the rental market. 50 years later, the business has a fleet of over 5,500 vehicles throughout the UK.
Arnold Clark Finance Limited wins its first contract hire customer, providing 30 vehicles to Arnott Young.
When Arnold Clark takes over Grant, Melrose and Tenant, the business gains its first Accident Repairs Centre in Vinicombe Street, Glasgow.
Adding to the ever-increasing portfolio of dealerships, Arnold Clark acquires an ambitious multi-site complex in Mount Vernon, welcoming Austin, Jaguar, Land Rover, MG, Rover and Triumph to the list of franchises.
At its Austin Rover dealerships, Arnold Clark begins to underwrite Motability finance.
This is a landmark year for the company, when it becomes the first Scottish car retailer to form a franchise partnership with Renault. Within the year, Arnold Clark becomes Scotland’s largest Renault dealer.
The 80s sees Arnold Clark acquiring another well-established motor group – Macharg, Rennie and Lindsay. Throughout the decade, 13 more dealerships are acquired, culminating in 1988 with the purchase of the Ron Hutcheson Motors Group in the North East of Scotland.
The Phoenix Retail Park in Linwood becomes the location for six franchises, Ford, SEAT, ŠKODA, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.
Expansion comes in the form of a new insurance service from Arnold Clark, which offers motoring, home and travel cover from a panel of over 20 insurers.
Venturing south of the border, the Group opens its first English retail operation in Liverpool.
In this busy year, Arnold Clark acquires ten further dealerships and brings all Group marketing activity in house.
With branches from Inverness to the West Midlands, Arnold Clark emerges as a national car retailer with a strong presence across Britain. Arnold Clark himself receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Business Awards.
Now focusing on expansion in England, the business continues to grow. This year is also the most successful to date for the company. As a result, Arnold Clark is awarded the Insider Elite Businessman of the Year Award and the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.
Celebrating his 50th year in business, Arnold Clark becomes Sir Arnold Clark after receiving a knighthood in recognition of his services to the motor industry and his contribution to the Scottish community. He also receives the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Master Entrepreneur.
The University of Glasgow awards Sir Arnold Clark an honorary doctorate, meaning that he can also add ‘doctor’ to his list of titles.
The Group acquires Harry Fairbairn, becoming Scotland’s leading BMW and MINI retailer. Also making their debut this year are the impressive BMW aftersales facility in Giffnock and Europe’s largest showroom in Glasgow’s Clydeside.
Understanding the need for all staff to be trained to the highest level, Arnold Clark invests in a new £10 million custom-built training and conference centre, GTG Training, which officially opens its doors in the regenerated Clydeside area of Glasgow.
Arnold Clark’s largest and most ambitious project to date is the new Stafford Motorstore. Costing £12 million, it is built using the very latest in sustainable technology, making room for an incredible 1,000 vehicles.
The company acquires four new branches in Dumfries, Carlisle, Penrith and Workington. Previously owned by the GLC Group, they begin trading as Arnold Clark from 10th December 2009.
This is a busy year for the company – the Arnold Clark website is named the foremost Automotive Dealer Website by Experian Hitwise UK. Meanwhile, away from the digital world, Arnold Clark is awarded the Sword of Honour by the British Safety Council, which represents the pinnacle of achievement in health and safety management. In addition, the acquisition of ŠKODA dealership in Inverness marks the beginning of a strong relationship with a new franchise.
In the process of developing its prestige portfolio, Arnold Clark acquires the Chrysler and Jeep franchises. Also, it becomes the first UK motor retailer to introduce the Kia ‘Red Cube’ showroom. The Group also embraces social media, opening Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Group’s retail offering continues to grow, with 17 new retail sites and 34 franchised outlets. One of the most significant of these is John R.Weir, which gives Arnold Clark the largest Mercedes-Benz market share in the UK. Meanwhile, award-winning ArnoldClark.com is developed to be compatible with a range of media devices.
A new GTG Training conference facility opens in the West Midlands, boasting both high quality academic and technical training and leading edge facilities - including a 250-seat conference room. Work also begins on the new Citroën showroom in Armadale, which is officially the largest Citroën dealership in the UK.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the company, Arnold Clark receives an impressive 94% customer satisfaction rating. With over 9,000 members of staff and 150 sites in the UK, plus record-breaking web traffic, the business celebrates its most profitable year to date. The icing on the cake is the AM Retailer of The Year award, which Arnold Clark wins for the third year in a row.
Arnold Clark sets to work on its biggest rebrand to date, introducing a clean and recognisable palette of yellow and dark grey to the company’s Motorstore facilities.
Many aspects of the company are now united under one roof at the new purpose-built head office at Hillington in Glasgow. The company’s ongoing success is once again recognised with three 2016 AM awards, including, Retailer of the Year.