Profile – John Tuke, chief executive, CarLand

John Tuke, a chartered accountant and managing director retired at 57.

Last January, two years later, he set up CarLand, a second-hand car superstore.

As a chief accountant in the motor industry during the 1960s, Tuke was determined to retire at 57. And in 1995, after stints at a number of motor companies as finance director and managing director, he achieved his ambition.

Tuke explains that he regarded accountancy as a stepping stone into management: ‘I qualified as an accountant in the 1960s with a small Bradford practice,’ he says. ‘But I was keen to use the accountancy skills of common sense and logic as a general manager.’

In his role as chief accountant at car retailer Endeavour, one of Tuke’s first tasks was to introduce a computerised stock control.

‘In the 1960s, as a finance director in the motor industry, the main challenge was to bring its information systems into the 20th century,’ recalls Tuke.

From the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, he held three managing director positions at different car retailers. But only two years into retirement, Tuke began to tire ‘of the golf circuit’ and began thinking business again. ‘One day, I sat down and wrote down everything that I didn’t like about buying a second-hand car, like the “Arthur Daley” factor,’ he says.

Last January, Tuke opened a CarLand car superstore in Thurrock, which aims to shake up the much maligned second-hand car industry. He plans to open ten more nationally this year, creating 1,200 jobs. ‘Second-hand car sales are still seen as a disreputable cottage industry,’ says Tuke. ‘We aim to turn this perception on its head by giving customers cast-iron guarantees in order to build their trust.’

Looking at the world of accountancy with a business perspective, Tuke admits that accountancy firms have changed for the better. ‘The big firms are no longer just about ticking boxes; they provide a total professional service. They’re looking to the future instead of the past.’

Related reading