Hailing from the West Midlands, James Brearley has had a varied and illustrious career within the automotive industry. Within this article, we detail his countless accolades from starting out in the sector to supporting Inchcape in exceeding economic expectations during an international crisis.
Back in the 1990s, the motor industry professional joined the ranks at Pendragon PLC, when it had only 8 outlets and helped grow the business to become the largest motor retailer in the United Kingdom. Rising through the specialist and premium side of Pendragon and proving himself to be a trustworthy leader with fine business acumen, he rose to Divisional Managing Director overseeing the Stratstone Premium Division by 2006. For the following two and a half years, this new position saw him taking on the responsibility Ford Premium Automotive Group Brands, Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda and Chrysler Jeep.
In 2008 James Brearley became the Managing Director of Stratstone, the largest premium automotive retailer in the country. With him at the helm of the business, Stratstone saw continuous year upon year growth. Ahead of the savvy businessman leaving in 2015, the company saw record first half profits. Having turned down the opportunity to become CEO of the overall Pendragon Group, James Brearley formed his own business the same year.
In January 2017, James Brearley rejoined Inchcape after 25 years away from the business in the position of UK CEO, taking responsibility for the company’s £1.6bn turnover as well as more than 4,500 employees. The company represents some of the world’s leading automotive brands including the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi.
Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented in recent years, particularly in the UK, James Brearley was able to take the company to the highest financial heights. In June last year, news outlets reported that Inchcape had “exceeded expectations” when it comes to economic resilience and financial success, the well-known automotive company expected to deliver a “full-year profit before tax” ahead of the market consensus.
While other motor businesses failed to fare quite as well, James Brearley told WhatCar that he did not have serious interest in buying businesses at the peak of values. He explained that in his view good employees are the foundation of any successful business model, he told the publication that he was focussed on “retaining the best staff; paying them well and giving them security during the pandemic and most importantly giving them autonomy to carry out their roles to the best of there ability.” Additionally, he said that his primary focus was the upcoming digitalisation of the company, stating that “retail has changed a lot and until three years ago it’s probably fair to say that Inchcape had not taken advantage of cost efficiencies available.”
Aside from his moves in the automotive industries, James Brearley has a philanthropic side. The senior business professional is a trustee at the ‘Making a Difference’ Charity based in Solihull, West Midlands. The local organisation raises significant funds for individuals and charitable projects that are most at need in the West Midlands Community. He also is a founding director of Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb PLC and has been instrumental in restoring the oldest ongoing motorsport venue in the world to its former glory during the last two decades.