Rybrook Group acquire Jaguar Land Rover dealerships in Halifax and Huddersfield
PUBLISHED: 11:28 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:36 19 May 2016
©Marcus Perkins 2015
Exciting investment is planned by a prestige motor group in Yorkshire, as Martin Pilkington reports
There was a major shift in the premium car scene in Yorkshire earlier this year with the arrival of prestige car experts the Rybrook Group, which has acquired the Jaguar Land Rover dealerships in Halifax and Huddersfield. ‘These are great businesses in a strong territory that we’re already familiar with,’ says managing director Henry Whale, whose family has been at the heart of the company for five generations. ‘The plan is to invest in the sites and create a new dual-arch facility at Huddersfield in line with Jaguar Land Rover’s plans.’
‘We have prestige dealerships all around England and Wales. So Yorkshire was definitely a missing part of the puzzle for the group until this acquisition,’ says Rybrook’s Group marketing manager Sophie Heptonstall. ‘And it’s our sort of place, very entrepreneurial, and somewhere that demands top quality and great service – and those are exactly the things this company strives to deliver. Likewise the Jaguar Land Rover franchise is a great fit for Rybrook – they make beautifully engineered and stylish vehicles.’
The company was founded by Henry’s great-grandfather Harry Whale in 1937, though it has undergone vast changes since then. ‘The origins of what was then the Ryland Group were in truck sales and coach building,’ says Henry: ‘The Sixties saw the first car franchise – which was Vauxhall - and in 1971 it took on its first prestige franchise, BMW.’ After a period as a PLC the family brought it back into private ownership in 2003, and since 2006 has focussed on the prestige segment of the market. And prestige doesn’t come much higher than McLaren, Bentley, Porsche and Rolls Royce, four of the famous brands in Rybrook’s portfolio. Car fanatics may well salivate at the thought of company’s new ultra-premium dealership in Bristol where those four marques, each in its dedicated area, will be found on one site.
Henry has numbered himself among such car enthusiasts from an early age. ‘Quite often as a kid I would visit local BMW or Vauxhall dealerships on a Saturday with my father. I absolutely loved it, it was like an Aladdin’s cave for a young lad!’ he says. That emotional attachment to the company’s products remains important to him for business purposes today. ‘Empathy with fellow enthusiasts is useful to help understand their needs, and of course it helps if you’re passionate about what you do.’
Rybrook is something of a rarity, a long-established family company whose drive and ambition has increased rather than diminished, one of its ambitions being to double turnover from the present near £500 million mark within the coming years. Buying the Halifax and Huddersfield dealerships was part of the strategy that Henry and his team have set out to reach that target. ‘We want to continue to expand our Rybrook retailer network and become a £1 billion turnover business, and to be the UK’s leading privately-owned automotive group specialising in premium and ultra-premium brands,’ he says.
When asked about which of the group’s achievements he is most proud of, however, it is not sales or growth figures, or even profit margins, that he cites. ‘Without doubt the best thing we’ve done is build the team we have in place today, whose attitude, skill and commitment are really something to behold. Our culture centres on a degree of autonomy in the businesses with financial controls and support on all areas from head office. This allows our managers to focus on our staff, on customers and on brand requirements. We find this an enormous help with recruitment, retention and development - not to mention customer service. Quite simply, happy, contented and empowered staff members are best placed to delight customers.’
He’s keen to emphasise that the company’s success flows from its people and the environment in which they are allowed to flourish. One of the results of their approach has been frequent recognition within the industry of the quality of their work. ‘We have garnered many well-deserved awards, none more so than Rybrook BMW Warwick which recently retained its national BMW aftersales crown for four years in a row, and has been named number one in the world for BMW aftersales!’ he says with evident pride. ‘We’ve kept the staff in place in Halifax and Huddersfield, and working with them to improve what are already great businesses with the Rybrook customer service culture. We’re sure they will soon be winning similar accolades!’
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Rybrook Warwick BMW Aftersales Retailer of the Year four years consecutively
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