Motoring Correspondent

ARNOLD CLARK, the Glasgow-based car dealer, has expanded his empire

into Dundee, Perth, and Aberdeen with a #2m takeover of the Ron

Hutcheson Group, which brings the Russian Lada brand into Clark's

multi-franchise portfolio.

Former journalist Mr Hutcheson, 52, who moved into the car trade in

1970, has parted with Fiat outlets in Perth and Dundee, plus Proton and

Lada franchises in Dundee and Aberdeen, where he also sold Citroens.

One of the conditions of the buyout was continuity of employment for

the 110 workers, which raises the Arnold Clark Organisation's payroll to

around 1300 people, from its beginnings in a tenement showroom in

Kelvinbridge, Glasgow, in 1954.

Despite their bargain basement image, Ladas generate a very high

profit retention for their 218 British dealers, and in Scotland the

cars, built at the Togliatti factory, on the banks of the Volga, account

for nearly 2% of the new model market.

Mr Clark's group, with an operating profit last year of #3.2m, and

turnover of #120m, has been concentrated within Scotland's central belt

until the opening of contract hire, and hire drive operations in

Sheffield and Liverpool earlier this year.

His car-selling interests now span Ford, Rover, General Motors,

Citroen, Fiat, VW-Audi, Renault, Peugeot, Seat, Lada and the Malaysian

Proton marque, with Japanese models conspicuously absent from the

international line-up.