It’s the most significant dealership investment in close to a decade in the greater Cork area, since motor malls were rolled out at East Gate and at Blarney Business Park in the early to mid 2000s, and is further evidence of the marked recovery in the economy and car sales since 2014.
Currently based at MahonPoint, with five marques, and on the Douglas Road with two further franchises and at capacity at both, the long-established company is now adding a third location, on the city’s western fringes, on the former Uponor site on the Bandon Road.
It will invest in a new 26,000sq ft showroom for its Land Rover and Jaguar brands, in a building to be delivered by April 2018, and will then follow on with a second, 12,000sq ft showroom for its Volvo franchise, according to Johnson & Perrott motor dealership division’s MD George Mills.
The company, established as carriage builders over 200 years ago and in sixth generation of private ownership, also has very successful car leasing, fleet management and rental divisions, and grew its pre-tax profits by over 28% in 2016, to €4.68m.
The imminent €15m investment on Bandon Road will see some 50 jobs located there, close to where Audi opened high-profile showrooms at the old Heaton Buckley premises by Dunnes Bishopscourt two years ago.
J&P’s dealership staff is expected to rise from 90 to about 120 by next year, adds Mr Mills, and they are negotiating on adding another one or two franchises.
They are among the top tier of motor sales companies, witha broad reach of makes, and now locations, topped only by Bill Keary’s group which is in five locations, selling Nissan, Hyundai, BMW/Minis, Renault, Dacia and Motorad BMW motorbikes, as well as serving Toyota and Lexus.
Currently, Johnson & Perrott sell Opels and Kias on their Douglas Road site, and Land Rover, Jaguar, Peugeot, Volvo and Honda at MahonPoint, where they have 30,000sq ft of showrooms and service centres, on a 3.3 acre site.
They have acquired 4.3 acres of the 9.5 acre Uponor site, in an off-market deal negotiated with Uponor’s site owner Seamus Geaney, who bought the site for an undisclosed sum several years ago from Uponor. The Finnish-owned plastic company moved out in 2003, with a loss of 60 jobs, and it was due to sell in 2007, for c €25m to O’Flynn Construction, but the deal never closed.
Earlier this year, market rumours suggested that Johnson & Perrott may move out of MahonPoint, and be replaced by an Avoca outlet, but the company has stressed they will retain both MahonPoint and Douglas, and that their strategy was to be a three-site dealer group, likely to stretch to eight or nine franchises.
They moved from Emmet Place to MahonPoint 11 years ago, in a master stroke deal with developer Owen O’Callaghan, a deal which enabled Mr O’Callaghan to get key parts of a city centre block which now comprises OCP’s fully-occupied retail development Opera Lane.
Site clearance work has been ongoing at Bandon Road in recent weeks with Loftus Demolition on site for owner Mr Geaney, and it is as yet unclear as to what use he will make of the balance/rear portion of 9.5 acre site.
J&P have just appointed an as-yet unidentified contractor, and say construction will start on site in a few weeks time.
The area has a growing motor sales profile, in both new and second hand cars, and also close by is the Denis and Mary Ryan dealerships, selling Subaru and Citroens.
The J&P/Geaney deal now sees Johnson & Perrott strategically set to operate on both ends of the south city ring road, and on the Douglas Road, where the long-established site has huge development potential but the firm stresses it has no plans for other development there.
Discussions are on-going with other manufacturers to add one or two more franchises to the group, and the outcome will be revealed in coming months, Mr Mills indicates.
The company celebrated 200 years in business in 2010, having started life as carriage builders for horse-drawn vehicles in 1810, and moved to motorised horse-power a century later.