Wilson Auctions driving ahead despite legal challenge

Wilsons Auctions sell more than 100,000 cars a year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TRADING at Ireland's largest auction house improved last year - despite it incurring significant costs in a legal challenge brought against the company which it ultimately won.

Mallusk-headquartered Wilsons Auctions, which has enjoyed a strong market position for many years, improved its turnover by 2.4 per cent in the year to last March, up from £10.8 million to £11.1m as the group generated a profit margin of 45 per cent.

Around a fifth of the current turnover (£1.98m) is generated from activities in the Republic.

Overall operating profit dropped back to £716,904 from £999,681 a year earlier, but profit before tax more than doubled from £292,827 to £768,023.

But in notes accompanying the financials filed with Companies House in Belfast, Wilsons Auctions referred to an exceptional write-back in relation to legal and professional fees of £79,754 during the period.

This was as the result of fees of £218,201 incurred the previous year being reduced following taxation.

All costs incurred were in relation to the successful defence of a legal action brought against the company.

The directors also pointed to a loss of £522,741 arising from a currency translation relating to its Dublin operation, together with a deficit of £288,077 from a property revaluation.

Wilsons Auctions was created in 1936 by William Wilson, with his son Ian (64) currently holding the position of group managing director.

Also listed as directors are Ian's wife Alison, their sons Frederick (37) and Gareth (36) and daughter Rebecca (32), along with group operations director Peter Johnston.

The company trades from five locations - Mallusk, Dublin (where it is based at Citywest, off the Naas Road), Dalry (Scotland), Telford (England) and Queensferry (Wales).

As well as selling more than 100,000 vehicles a year, it also holds regular auctions on behalf of government bodies, police forces and enforcement agencies to items such as jewellery, speed-boats, holiday homes, motorbikes, super-cars, art, classic cars, planes and even gold bullion and diamonds.

The company employed 149 staff in 2015, a rise of four on the previous year, though the overall wages bill fell back slightly from £3.8m to £3.5m, due to a marked reduction in pension costs.

Indeed the overall directors' remuneration also reduced from £805,761 in 2014 to £449,355 last year after the company's pension contributions went from £400,000 to zero.

During the trading year Wilsons Auctions was awarded a contract with Police Scotland, the second largest force in the UK after the Metropolitan Police, for asset realisation.

It means the company is now the preferred supplier to law enforcement agencies for the disposal of assets and currently works in partnership with more than 20 police forces throughout the UK who represent a collective population of 25m people.

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