Woodham Mortimer boss Jean-Marc Gales
The new brand is moving on under boss Jean-Marc Gales from recent troubles
Classic car firm Woodham Mortimer, formerly JD Classics, will focus on growing its business through restoration and historic racing as it rebounds from recent controversy.
JD Classics went into administration in September, a few months after news broke that it was being investigated for “financial irregularities”. Former boss Derek Hood, who is no longer involved with the business, remains under investigation.
The company was bought by American-based investment firm HPS in a deal that meant all 60 staff kept their jobs at its facility in Maldon, Essex. The classic car company was renamed Woodham Mortimer, after a village close to Maldon.
Jean-Marc Gales joined the company in June, having led Lotus for four years previously.
Gales told Autocar that Woodham Mortimer “wants to bring a new standard to the classic car industry” in terms of both quality of cars and customer services: “We want to increase the restoration part of the business and the historic racing, which we are really good at.”
He said that despite the firm’s troubles, many of JD Classics’ existing customers continue to trade with it: “It’s a very good customer base that we’ve always had. We want to attract new people into racing and we know many people who are very interested in historic racing.”
The historic racing team at Woodham Mortimer comprises eight people, a number that Gales hopes to increase by 50% by the end of 2019.
He said: “We want to double our revenue and our customers on the racing side. And on the restoration side, our workshop is full but we want to keep it that way. We are looking to attract more restoration business, such as upgrading E-Types, historic XKs, and others, like Aston Martin.”
Gales added that trading is less of a focus than restoration and racing: “That’s where the value is generated. In the market that’s flat, relying on trading would be short-sighted. Restoration and racing are the key focus.”
Gales also plans to add a trim shop to the site by the end of this year (it is currently outsourced), which will mean the whole process of building a car will be achievable in-house.
In its former guise as JD Classics, the firm had launched in the US last year to captialise on its burgeoning classic car market. However, that market is no longer part of the business plan in the short term. “The UK and Europe are very interesting for us,” Gales said. “We do not exclude the US for the future but, at the moment, we want to consolidate and establish our name here.”