Garage tAPS into new markets

A garage based in Brackley has diversified over the last 18 months to enter new markets and create further jobs.

APS Brackley, which is based on the Buckingham Road Industrial Estate, has been operating since 2006, providing customers with routine vehicle maintenance and repairs, MOTs and annual services.

At the beginning of last year, the company expanded, taking on a unit opposite the garage and turning it into a car showroom.

Ed Jackson, one of the two directors of APS Brackley, says: “Over the years my business partner, Nathan Sammons, and I have been approached by clients whose cars we have maintained over the years asking if we would be interested in buying their car when the time comes to change. We’ve always said ‘no’ because we didn’t have the space to buy and sell cars but when the unit opposite our workshop became available it presented the perfect opportunity to realise this.”

The showroom is large enough to house eight cars and tends to sell, on average, four or five cars a month. It specialises in Audi and Volkswagen vehicles but has been known to sell Porsches on occasion.

“The showroom is simply another string to our bow,” says Ed. “We only sell cars we know the full history of, and our approach is very relaxed and no pressure.”

After launching the showroom, which is now in its second year of trading, APS Brackley spied another growth opportunity - going into business with Merlin Bodycraft, a vehicle body shop and repair centre.

“Opposite our workshop Merlin Bodycraft has been trading for over 25 years and we were approached by one of the owners who wanted to retire. After some discussions we agreed to purchase his share of the business and his business partner would remain and carry on running the bodyshop as our new business partner. The new business now trades as APS Merlin Bodycraft.”

Since May, APS Merlin Bodycraft has doubled its monthly turnover after launching a new website and social media channels and working more closely with the garage side of the business.

“The two businesses complement each other well,” says Ed. “If someone comes in for a service and we notice some damage to the bodywork, we can offer to fix it for them and vice versa. And, if someone brings a car to the body shop for repairs, we can use the garage to remove bumpers and other car parts much quicker. It just works really well.”

A third opportunity is also on the horizon. Opposite the APS garage, on the other side of the new showroom, is another unit. APS Brackley will be expanding into this in the new year, providing the garage side of the business with three more service bays.

These three areas of expansion have also resulted in the creation of new jobs in Brackley. Sian Bray has been taken on to run the administration side of the car showroom business and a new employee has recently started at APS Merlin Bodycraft. This takes the team to ten full time staff members, with a view to increasing to 12 in 2020.

“APS Brackley has been trading since 2006 and we’ve often thought about expanding, but I was worried about overheads and getting into debt,” reveals Ed. “Even though growth has been significant over the last 18 months, we have been sensible and managed it very cautiously. We only took steps to grow further once we had the revenue to back it up and we now have a combined turnover of £1.5 million across the three businesses.”

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