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The billionaire Motor Trader – Sir Arnold Clark

Scottish businessman Sir Arnold Clark has become the UK’s first billionaire car dealer, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2016

Published on 24 April 2016, the list gives the names and worth of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the United Kingdom.

Arnold ClarkeIn a year when many names on the rich list experienced financial losses, or a slowing down of profits, Clark’s worth increased by £350m, placing him in the billionaire category with a worth of £1,025m.

Clark’s success places him in position 114 on the 2016 Rich List, higher than author and fellow Scot J. K. Rowling, who comes in at 197.

The Sunday Times list features 17 car dealers. Arnold Clark’s worth is almost double that of the second place holder, Lord Edmiston, of car import firm IM Group, whose total worth is valued at £540m. Other entries from the motor trade include Jack Warren, the man behind car supermarket Cargiant, Sir Tom Farmer, the founder of the Kwik Fit chain, and John Collins, a newcomer to the rich list valued at £103m, who trades in second-hand luxury and classic cars.

The Sunday Times also releases a Motoring Rich List, on which Arnold Clark came fourth in 2014.

Background of a billionaire

Born in Glasgow in 1927, John Arnold Clark joined the Royal Air Force at the age of seventeen. He trained as a motor mechanic and rose through the ranks, attaining the position of Motor Mechanics Instructor by the time he left the service in the early 1950s.

He started his own business buying and selling cars, starting with a Morris Ten Four which he purchased, restored, and sold for a profit. He was able to build up enough capital to open his first showroom, in Park Road, Glasgow, in 1954.

In 1959, Clark purchased a Morris franchise, and during the 1960s more garages opened in Glasgow, Paisley and Bearsden. After adding a Renault dealership to the portfolio in 1979, Arnold Clark became Scotland’s largest Renault dealer. By the late 1980s, the company was Scotland’s largest vehicle dealer network.

The first Arnold Clark dealership in England was a car supermarket in Liverpool, opened in 1994. Expansion south of the border continued in the 2000s.

The company has picked up a number of awards and accolades over the decades. Arnold Clark received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the 2002 National Business Awards, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Master Entrepreneur in 2004, and the Sword Award from the British Safety Council in 2010. The company’s website, arnoldclark.com, was named as Automotive Dealer Website by Experian Hitwise UK for several years running.

In December 2003, John Arnold Clark became Sir Arnold Clark. His knighthood was conferred for his charity work in Scotland, as well as for services to the motor industry. In 2004, the company celebrated half a century in business, and in 2005, Sir Arnold received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow.

Arnold Clark today

In 2016, the Arnold Clark name is behind a network of over 200 car dealerships across England and Scotland, which between them hold a stock of more than 15,000 new and used cars at any one time, and serve two million customers.

A wide choice of makes and models is represented, giving customers plenty of options to suit every need and budget. Arnold Clark sells new cars from 24 marques, including BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Ford, and Fiat.

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As well as new cars on trade plates, nearly new, and used models, Arnold Clark offers a range of other services, including car and van rental, accident repair, and servicing, for corporate fleets as well as privately owned vehicles. The company has been a Motability partner since 1978.

Arnold Clark owns GTG Training, which offers courses on subjects relating to the automotive industry as well as business skills and IT. Another asset is the racing yacht Drum, once owned by Simon Le Bon, which is hired out to private and corporate clients.

Having a billionaire car dealer can only be good news for the UK’s economy, as well as the motor trade.
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