After nine years of turning round struggling car dealerships with the Henley Group, Steve Weal says he ‘knew the difference between a skip and a Skoda’. Deciding to implement his ideas himself, he bought Sidcup Auto Centre with his brother-in-law Stephen Weeitch in 1996. Financed initially with family savings and mortgages, and with Weal working 16-hour days, the Kent company flourished and now sells 1,100 new and used Skodas a year. It also supplies the cars to 250 taxi firms across the country. Weal and Weeitch have responded to slowing car sales in the past two years by opening two full-service body shops and by supplying Skoda parts to service shops throughout southeast England. This has helped drive up sales 93% a year from £1m in 1998 to £7.3m in 2001 when the company had 16 staff.
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