AvailableCar accelerates as site big success

Used car retailer AvailableCar is marking a second full year in Leeds by expanding its vehicle display space at the Capitol Boulevard Business Park in Morley.

moving up a gear: AvailableCar founder Graham Bell said the Leeds site is the flagship supermarket for the brand and the group is delighted at the showrooms progression. Picture: simon Hulme

AvailableCar, which was established in 2002 by Graham Bell, has seen its turnover for the year ending December 2017 increase by 8.2 per cent to £304m, up from £281m in 2016.

The company said pre-tax profit was up 39 per cent to £8.4m from the previous year with 6,648 used cars sold at Leeds. Sales across the group rose by 11 per cent, the firm added.

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In the last quarter of 2017, AvailableCar purchased an additional 4.7 acres of land next to its car showroom in Leeds, which it opened in early 2016.

The extra land is set to be re-developed into further car supermarket display space and will take the whole site from 10.7 acres to an impressive 15.4 acres.

The total number of cars on display, will increase from 1,500 to 2,600 vehicles, AvailableCar said.

Mr Bell, chairman of AvailableCar, said: “Leeds has been our largest site investment to date and is our flagship supermarket for the AvailableCar brand.

“By expanding into such a large location and a new region, there was always an element of risk involved, however we are delighted with how the last two years have progressed.

“There is no denying that all businesses have to work harder at the moment, competition is fierce and consumer buying habits are continuing to change.

“We are pleased to report that all the targets set for Leeds have been achieved, so much so we are now expanding the site even further, which speaks volumes about the fantastic and hard-working team members we have here at AvailableCar.”

The Leeds showroom is one of four sites nationally with the rest dotted around the Midlands.

AvailableCar has over 700 employees.

In Leeds, the firm employs 130 staff and has ambitions to grow that number to 250.

Paul Arscott, operations director at AvailableCar, said: “As a Graham Bell family-run business we do not operate short-term employee contracts for full-time staff, only long-term.

“This is because AvailableCar strives to provide secure career paths for every employee, which include making every employee a stakeholder and rewarding them with a year-end share in profits.

“After 16 years of trading we are proud to say we have one of the best employee retention levels in the automotive industry, with a vast majority having been with us since the very beginning.

“Our next step is to continue our five-year business plan to gradually increase our recruitment by employing and training new staff.

“We currently have 130 team members at Leeds and we would like to have 250 once the recruitment process is complete.”

AvailableCar offers a profit related pay scheme for every employee.

Last year saw every staff member bag an extra 16.25 per cent on top of their wage.

The business says it is on the lookout for more recruits and urged anyone who wants to join to regularly check the firm’s website and send in their CV applications.

‘Overwhelmed by the quality’

Availablecar opened its doors in Leeds in 2016 after acquiring the former Carcraft site.

At the time, Mr Bell said: “I think there’s good hard working people here. They know what’s value for money. It’s prosperous and they say it how it is.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the quality of people that have applied for the jobs here.”

Mr Bell set up the business after his father-in-law encouraged him to do so. He says that having started the business it gives him an advantage because “you’ve done all the jobs earlier on in your life, you know what everybody is doing and you are appreciative of your staff”.