A tribute and farewell to an industry icon.
We were very sad to have heard this morning’s news that Sir Arnold Clark, the founder of Britain’s biggest independent group of car dealerships, has passed away at the age of 89. We would like to take this opportunity to offer our sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.
The Arnold Clark story is almost as famous as his nationwide automotive network. After leaving the RAF (which he joined at 17), he used his demob money to buy a Morris Ten Four for £70. After devoting his skills and what was left of his funds to restoring the car to beyond its former glory, he sold it on for a profit. It could perhaps be said that he never looked back.
The first Arnold Clark showroom opened in 1954, on Glasgow’s Park Road. The business quickly grew to incorporate car hire schemes, repair centres, franchises, and a separate automotive finance and insurance company. The group crossed the border and opened its first showroom in England in 1994, at a site in Liverpool. As a company, they now boast over 200 branches, sell more than 250,000 vehicles a year, and provides employment to some 10,000 people.
In 2004, the man behind the company became Sir Arnold Clark, after being knighted for services to the motor industry and his community work throughout Scotland. Then, in 2016, he became Britain’s first billionaire car dealer, according to the Sunday Times rich list.
What is clear though, is that not only was Clark an icon of the industry, setting multiple standards in terms of customer service, best practice, and growth, but he was also a devoted family man, and passionate about his charity work. Arnold Clark support many projects and programmes, from local schools to aspiring Scottish athletes.
His undeniable charm and character will be greatly missed by the industry. Perhaps a statement from his close family says it all best.
“He was a beloved husband, father, grandparent, and a great friend and employer to many.”
We are in no doubt that the inspiration and innovation he brought to the industry will be cherished by retailers across the country. Thank you Sir Arnold, and R.I.P.