A Family business, a brief history.
‘Picador Motor Company Ltd’ was the first name of the company when formed in 1962 by Mr Lionel Jacobs at the present site in Portsmouth Road, Sholing, Southampton.
Lionel served a mechanical apprenticeship with the then ‘Percy Hendy Ltd, a Ford main dealer’ now known as ‘Hendy Ford’. After servicing his National Service, he joined ‘John I Thornycroft’ now the ‘VT Group’ as a maintenance fitter, where he worked for 6 years. However his first interest and real passion was the motor trade and he was always looking for the opportunity of starting his own business. In 1962 a small workshop, with a flat over became available in Portsmouth Road, Sholing, it was very limited in size and did not have equipment but Lionel decided to take the gamble and seize the moment.
To purchase the property and realise his dream, Lionel had to sell the family home and move into the flat above the workshop. This proved challenging as they had two young children, Graham and Claire and the flat was very small. However, with his wife Jean by his side, they ‘set to’. Calling the business ‘Picador Motor Company Ltd’. The business consisted of a small workshop, showroom and some very old petrol pumps. There were four employees, a salesman, a partsman who was also the general handyman, an office girl and a very outgoing well remembered petrol pump girl who in the summer, can you believe, used to wear a bikini to attract to local male motorists!!!. Lionel was in the workshop.
For the first two years, the company operated under the BMC franchise but in late 1964 it was decided to change to Vauxhall. The first years were tough, very tough, funding, as with many new business start-ups, was difficult, however with some creative cash and bank manager management and committed hard work, the business grew, mainly on the back of a passion for the customer and prudent cash controls. As a result, the company has never looked back, the company is still selling and repairing thousands of Vauxhall vehicles today.
In the early 1970’s as the business continued to thrive, new and used car sales were up to about 400 units per annum and with a strong and growing aftersales business, a new 12 bay combined workshop and Bodyshop was built at the rear of the premises. This quickly proved to be a great move for the business, this area remains and is now dedicated to mechanical work. In 1988 a 6,500 square feet factory was purchased at the rear of the premises and converted into a body repairs centre which continues to operate today.
In the early 1980’s the old and dated looking front elevation was demolished paving way for a new 5 car showroom with the latest Vauxhall corporate identity and parts department. During 1984 a workshop and compound was purchased which is now used for valeting and storage for up to 60 vehicles.
The company went from strength to strength and in 1989 it was decided to change the trading name to the present ‘Picador plc’, we thought the name change gave the company enhanced gravitas. Significant growth in the corporate/fleet car sales arena, we were now selling nearly 1500 fleet units per annum and purchased share capital drove the decision.
During 1992 the main building was demolished, a new modern 7-8 car showroom, new parts department and super modern petrol forecourt were built. This was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. The cost was £750,000.
Petrol remained a part of our business until about 2008, poor return on fuel sales, lack of customer parking and our ever increasing car and aftersales growth, we just needed more space. More space was essential also to meet Vauxhalls new CI requirement for a new 10-11 car Vauxhall showroom, the showroom was completed in September 2015.
In 1999 the company purchased ‘Rowles Ltd’ in Chandlers Ford, previously trading as a family owned Rover dealer. As a satellite of our core facility in Portsmouth Road the site was immediately converted to Vauxhall, the large petrol forecourt and service department were all refurbished. The purchase of this site was a good move for Picador, it has made good money since day one, with a team of about 20 people it now turns over £11 million and sells about 800 cars per annum. The site also has significant motor trade development potential, it will be upgraded to the new Vauxhall CI in 2016.
In 2003 a third site was opened in Winchester. A standalone site previously trading as Stuart’s garage was knocked down redeveloped as a Vauxhall satellite. Although a small facility with a team of just 11 people in sales and service, this site again has been very successful, turning over £4.5 million and selling 500 cars per annum.
In 2007 Picador took another step forward when they purchased Denkale Motor Co, a large site in central Southampton selling Chevrolet. The brand as part of General Motors initially fitted in very well both geographically and from a brand demographic perspective with Picadors other sites. Although early days with the brand were quite good, the business deteriorated as GM pulled away from the brand and its development, it was disposed of in September 2011.
In 2012 the business known as Pats Garage in the New Forest was taken over. Again a family business known to the Jaocbs family for years. The site has fitted in well with the Picador Group’s ethos of a committed focus on the customer and our staff. Significant changes have had to happen at the site, staff reductions and promotions, we have found as usual, staff make the difference, this why we continue to develop. The site was losing over £130,000 per annum when we took over, it made £80,000 last financial year with a team of 12. The site had a major re-fit to the new Vauxhall CI in Q4 2015.
In the first year of trading, the company’s turnover was £36,000.00. This year the company’s turnover will be in excess of £40 million. In the last financial year the company sold 3300 vehicles and it currently employs 140 members of staff. Very importantly we have, through pure hard work, and for the 3rd year running, won the prestigious ‘’Vauxhall Customer Excellence award’’. Awarded to the UK’s top 25 performing retailers for exemplary customer service, our claim to fame is that, of all those 25 retailers we sell significantly more cars than any of the other 25.
The business has continued to be run as a family concern. In the early 1990’s Lionel’s son Graham Jacobs took over as Chief Executive, looking after the day to day running of the total operation, ably support by his friend and then Business Sales Manager Robert Oakeley, who had worked for the company since 1994. Rob was soon promoted to Managing Director and in 1994 we were lucky enough to be joined by our now Financial Director Neal Cruse ACA BA Hons. This has allowed Lionel to semi-retire, become Chairman of the company and continue his charity fund-raising work with the Rotary Club and Masonic movement.
Vauxhall Business Centre
The Picador Vauxhall Business Centre is based at our Sholing site and is headed by Marcus Russell and assisted by Gill Marshall. Our Business centre can supply new/used retail/fleet Vauxhall vans and can also offer contract hire.
We will look to Price Match any new van quote.
Bodyshop and Network Q
As one of Southampton's largest bodyshops we are approved for all the major insurance companies with a fleet of over 50 courtesy cars, we can keep you mobile.
Network Q remains the premier used car brand in the UK, we are proud to be able to offer you the choice of 1,000's of the best quality used vauxhalls in the UK with over 200 at our sites in southampton, chandlers ford and winchester. For everything that is vauxhall make Picador Plc your first choice.