19 Apr 2017
One of the outstanding figures of business in Glasgow passed away last week.
Sir Arnold Clark leaves behind a tangible legacy for his city. The business itself is certainly the most obvious, Europe’s largest independently-owned family-run car dealer.
He grew it from scratch, nurturing its success all through the years when Glasgow saw one after another old-established family business go to the wall and Scotland as a country was lamenting its comparative shortage of entrepreneurs.
When Glasgow was reaching its lowest economic point in the mid-90s, Sir Arnold was busily expanding his company into England.
But there is also another of his legacies which is providing opportunities for literally thousands of young people in Glasgow every year.
In 2003 he took full control of an initiative called the Glasgow Training Group. Formed in 1971 by a consortium of motor industry businesses, including Arnold Clark, it was designed to make sure there was a robust system for delivering top quality apprenticeships.
Since its rebranding in 2004 as GTG Training, the Arnold Clark Group has invested over £40 million into the facilities, the tools and equipment and the excellent staff at GTG.
If you have ever visited the training centre in South Street you will know just how important the Arnold Clark Group takes its support for industry training.
In 2015/16 GTG helped over 2,200 mostly young people achieve a good apprenticeship, and at the same time partnered local schools to deliver 238 work experience placements.
The Prince’s Trust is a regular partner spotlighting opportunities for 16-22 year olds from the poorest backgrounds, who usually end up with a job offer in the Arnold Clark business.
The last time I saw Sir Arnold was at an annual graduation for trainees and apprentices at the South Street site. As usual there was a collection of classic vehicles outside for the apprentices and their families to explore and have their photographs taken.
The steady flow of talent from GTG’s work means that over half of Arnold Clark’s workforce is under 30.
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce awarded Sir Arnold its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 in formal recognition of the contribution he had already made to the business life of our city.
We are proud that he was a member of the Chamber and we send good wishes to his family at this difficult time. They can look back on Sir Arnold’s life with pride.