J&P motors on despite tough times
It’s been a tough start to the year for those operating in the motor trade in Ireland, but that hasn’t deterred Cork-based Johnson & Perrott Motor Group from expanding its presence in fleet management.
The company has just agreed a deal to acquire Walden Leasing Fleet Management Ltd. Walden has been in business since 1923 and would be better known for its former Ford dealership on Parnell Street in Dublin.
More recently, its leasing and fleet management activities have been based in Ballycoolin near Blanchardstown.
The two businesses will be consolidated at J&P’s base in Tallaght with two of the five Walden staff moving over. Larry Dunne, managing director of Walden is joining J&P’s fleet division as sales director.
Mark Whitaker, J&P’s chief executive, said the deal would boost its “scale and profitability” by 20 to 25 per cent.
“Over the coming three years, we are open to acquiring other fleet management or contract tyre companies and we have the resources to carry out those transactions,” Whitaker added.
This deal follows a strategic shift by J&P in 2012 when it sold its Avis rental car business, where margins were proving to be too tight, to focusing more resources on fleet management.
“Fleet management hasn’t been quite as difficult as motor dealerships .
“We’re able to dispose of redundant vehicles at a profit and there have been fewer imports coming from the UK due to sterling having appreciated in value against the euro.”
Whitaker said the group had a “successful and profitable year’s trading” in 2012 and beefed up its board with the addition of Harry Lorton (ex-TSB Bank chief) and Michael Herbert as directors.
J&P also has two motor dealerships in Cork. How does he expect new car sales to go in 2013?
“It’s going to be a difficult year. The start has been very soft. That means there’ll be very good value available to consumers. But it probably means we’ll also have more closures of dealerships.”