Family Ford dealership Pertwee & Back looks forward to the next generation
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
Richard Coller was not given a choice of whether to join his father in the family business – it was either that or Pertwee & Back was to be sold.
But he took on the challenge and brought the firm to where it is today, a £44m turnover business selling thousands of Ford cars each year in Great Yarmouth.
Now, three decades on, it is his son Tom who is poised to take the EDP Top100 firm into a new era, when it becomes 57-year-old Richard's turn to retire in three years' time.
'I had a mission when I took over from my father,' said Richard. 'I wanted Tom to take over from me and hopefully it will be there for generations to come.'
Richard's strategy, of keeping money in the business and avoiding bank loans, is also part of the reason he has turned down the chance to expand.
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'I have been offered the franchise by Ford elsewhere, but I didn't take it because what we do, we do well,' he said.
'I was frightened to move away from Great Yarmouth because you're moving into another world.
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'We have got a business selling an awful lot of cars and employing local people. I didn't think the risk was worth it.'
The succession will see 27-year-old Tom take control of the business, which employs 60 people and is based in Gapton Hall Industrial Estate, with his 55-year-old uncle Nick who is service director.
Richard said: 'It has been a wonderful experience for me but as the weeks and months and years go by I find it harder to keep up with it all.
'For Tom it's like water off a duck's back.'
Tom joined the business seven years ago after a spell in the oil and gas industry. He completed a degree in business management at the UEA, and was made director last year.
'If I didn't have Tom coming in I would struggle,' said Richard. 'We would have had to find someone else to run it or sell it.
However he won't be stepping away completely. 'Like father was there for me, I hope I'm there for Tom,' he added.
Pertwee & Back, which sells new and used cars, makes the biggest share of its business from company car fleets.
It saw a drop in turnover for the year ending October 31 2015, down from £60.4m to £44.2m, but Richard said this was due to fewer fleet customers. The year before turnover had risen from £47.7m.
He added: 'Companies we deal with can choose to buy other makes for short or long periods of time. It's fluctuations in the marketplace.'
Pre-tax profits fell from £165,000 to £133,00 for the same period, but was due to rise this year, said Richard.
He added external pressures, such as the oil and gas downturn, had an impact on sales, but low interest rates had also made it easier for customers to buy cars on finance. And the emissions scandal, which has rocked Volkswagen, had had little impact on the business, said Richard. 'I never knock the competition,' he added.
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