Arnold Clark Automobiles

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Arnold Clark
Founded1954; 65 years ago (1954) in Glasgow, Scotland
FounderArnold Clark
Number of employees
10,000 (2016)

The Arnold Clark Group is Scotland's largest private company. It began in Glasgow, and expanded into other parts of Scotland, and also into England. As of 2018, the company has 200 dealerships and 24 franchises, staffed by around 10,000 people.


It was founded by Arnold Clark, who opened his first showroom in 1954 in Park Road in Glasgow. In 1963, Arnold Clark Finance was launched.[1] In the 1960s the company began rental vehicles and in 1968 took over Grant, Melrose and Tennant giving the company an accident repair centre.[2]

By 1989, there were twenty two Arnold Clark branches across Central Scotland and one in England. The rental part of the business now had 1400 rental cars and 350 light commercial vehicles.[3] The company also had vehicle contract hire operations in Liverpool and Sheffield.[4] In December 1989, he gained a further 13 dealerships in the North East of Scotland, with the purchase of Ron Hutcheson Motors Ltd.[2][5] This took the number of people employed by the company to 1,300.[4]

In 1994, the company opened its first site in England, in Liverpool.[6] By May 2002, Arnold Clark had 97 dealerships and with annual sales expected to reach £1 billion, with a claim to be Scotland's largest private company[7] although Grampian Country Foods recorded larger sales for the four years following this.[8]

In December 2003, Arnold Clark acquired the training company GTG.[9] By the end of that year, the company employed 6,000 people and operated more than 120 showrooms across the United Kingdom.[10] In April 2005, the company paid a first dividend to the family trust family that it is co owned by.[11]

In May 2006, the company acquired the BMW and MINI specialist Harry Fairbairn, which had dealerships in Giffnock and Irvine.[12] In August 2006, the company opened a car showroom in the regenerated Glasgow Harbour, Europe's largest.[13] By November 2007, it was approaching a £2 billion turnover.[14] In June 2007, it overtook Grampian Country Foods to again become Scotland's biggest private company.[15] With the announcement of the Vehicle scrappage scheme in August 2009, Arnold Clark expected to create 700 jobs.[16]

By September 2012, the company was expanding through the acquisition of other dealerships. Fleet sales still accounted for a relatively small proportion of the company's business.[17] The takeover of the Weir group in September 2012 also saw the company expand into the market of Mercedes-Benz.[18] Acquisitions also included a site near Aberdeen, and a dealership and bodyshop in Blackpool.[19]

2014 was their sixtieth year of trading and this was marked with the company’s turnover reaching almost £3 billion, with a rise in used car sales partly responsible.[20] They were involved with the 2014 Commonwealth Games as a partner organisation, helping look after the fleet of official vehicles.[21]

In February 2015, the company undertook a rebranding of their buildings.[22] In 2015, the company took over Ness Motors in Inverness, Elgin and Perth.[23] By 2016, the company had 200 dealerships and 24 franchises, with a staff of 10,000.[24] Arnold Clark never retired from the company, remaining as chairman until his death on 10 April 2017, at the age of 89.[2]

On the 31st of January 2019, Arnold Clark completed their takeover of The Phoenix Car Company. Phoenix was a family-run car retail group establihsed in 1993, with KIA, Hyundai, Honda, Ssangyong and Mazda dealerships.


In December 2007, the company's Botanic Gardens Garage was designated a category A listed building.[25] It had been built before 1912.[26]

The company withdrew their plans to demolish the building, and in 2014, a planning application was granted to convert it into a gym.[27]

The company has a purpose built Head Office in Hillington which houses a Renault dealership. This was completed in 2016.

In 2018 the new Kilbirnie Street office was completed housing several departments and was similar in appearance to the Hillington Head Office but on a smaller scale.


In October 2009, the company won the Glasgow Business Award for Apprentice Employer of the Year.[28]

In May 2016, the company's marketing department was named 'In-House Marketing Team of the Year' at The Drum Awards 2016.[29]


  1. ^ Swindon, Peter (10 April 2017). "Sir Arnold Clark 1927- 2017: How Scot became Britain's first billionaire car dealer". The Herald. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Pease, Victoria (10 April 2017). "Sir Arnold Clark: How £70 motor turned into car empire". STV News. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Long pedigree keeps motor dealership in pole position". The Herald. 12 April 1989. p. 5. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b Hunston, Hugh (15 November 1989). "Arnold Clark in #2m takeover". The Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Motoring businessman Ronald Hutcheson". The Courier. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  6. ^ Cameron, Greig (4 October 2013). "Turnover at Arnold Clark up to record £2.48bn". Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Arnold Clark on route to sales of £1bn". The Scotsman. 26 September 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Food firm 'biggest' in Scotland". BBC News. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Arnold's £10m for new trainers". Daily Record. 10 July 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Car tycoon's pride at honour". BBC News. 31 December 2003. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Sir Arnold Clark's family trust receives first dividend". The Herald. 19 April 2005. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Arnold Clark empire powers ahead Fairbairn acquired in multi-million-pound deal". The Herald. 13 May 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Clark opens Clydeside showroom". The Herald. 12 August 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Arnold Clark buys Newcastle's Patterson". The Scotsman. 3 November 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  15. ^ Murden, Terry (24 June 2007). "Clark overtakes Grampian to be biggest firm". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Arnold Clark to create 700 jobs". BBC News. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  17. ^ Dorsey, Kirsty (29 September 2012). "Dealership acquisition still the driving force for Arnold Clark". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  18. ^ Ranscome, Peter (3 September 2012). "Weir is the latest big name capture for motoring legend Arnold Clark". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  19. ^ Reid, Scott (4 October 2013). "Arnold Clark seeks takeovers after record sales". The Scotsman. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  20. ^ Dorsey, Kirsty (27 September 2014). "Arnold Clark turnover hits record £3 billion mark". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  21. ^ Barry, Maggie (6 June 2014). "Meet the men behind Commonwealth Games massive fleet of Fords". Daily Record. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  22. ^ Chung, Crystal (13 February 2015). "Arnold Clark's 60 years in business". Daily Record. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  23. ^ Bell, Olivia (11 February 2015). "Arnold Clark agrees deal to takeover Ness Motors". The Inverness Courier. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Arnold Cark Automobiles reports record turnover". BBC News. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  25. ^ "New listing for historic garage". BBC News. 28 December 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Botanic Gardens Garage". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  27. ^ McCool, Mary (5 April 2014). "From motors to muscle: Glasgow's oldest garage to become 24-hour gym". STV News. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Howden celebrates awards treble". The Herald. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  29. ^ "Arnold Clark Automobiles Ltd. Think fast, learn fast: Optimising through agile". The Drum. Retrieved 10 April 2017.

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