Renault agent's €3m profit fell to €4m loss


STRONG COMPETITION hit businessman Bill Cullen's motor distributors operation in 2006, leaving it with a loss of €4 million, the latest figures show.

Mr Cullen's business was the Republic's main Renault distributor up to July 2007.

Accounts lodged by his main operating company, Glencullen Holdings, show that it turned over €241 million in 2006, a fall of more than 5 per cent on the previous year, when sales were €254.6 million.

Operating losses were €4 million, down from a €3 million profit the previous year. A near €2.9 million gain from the sale of surplus property helped offset this, but the company was also hit by a €2.4 million interest bill.

This left it with a pretax loss for the year of €3.6 million. The company paid €361,000 in tax, largely in capital gains. This resulted in an overall loss for the year of €3.98 million. Glencullen's directors' report blames "strong competition in the motor vehicle market" for the company's losses. Distributing Renault automobiles was its main activity during the year.

The directors state that Renault had a 6.4 per cent share of the car and light commercial vehicle market in 2005, but this slipped to 5.4 per cent in 2006, the year covered by the accounts.

"The long-term objective of the group is to establish Renault in the top five vehicle brands on a profitable basis," the report adds.

The balance sheet shows that Glencullen Holdings' shareholders' funds stood at €50 million at the end of 2006, a fall of €3.6 million on the previous year.

The group owed its creditors €82.8 million. These included the banks, trade creditors and some PAYE liabilities.

The figures also show that the business had owed Mr Cullen €2.3 million in 2005, but no money was due to him by the end of 2006.

Attempts to contact Mr Cullen yesterday were unsuccessful.

Glencullen paid its directors, including Mr Cullen, a total of €1.4 million in 2006, down from €1.8 million the previous year. The accounts also show that Glencullen Holdings donated €14,873 to Fianna Fáil in 2006.

A number of years ago, Mr Cullen boosted his profile when he wrote a book, A Long Way from Penny Apples, which detailed his rise from a job selling fruit from a stall on Moore Street to becoming one of the country's best-known businessmen. He has also written a self-help book for budding entrepreneurs called Golden Apples - Six Simple Steps to Success.