On our roads since 1947 Land Rover has become something of a British institution. Beloved by many (owners include the Queen) it has inspired designers - raise a glass to Victoria Beckham - through to authors – take a bow, Ben Fogle.
It has also inspired staff at Taggarts. For 2 decades they have been proud to be associated with Land Rover and recently celebrated 20 years representing the brand.
Bought from Shields Automotive by Lookers in 2013 under the Taggarts umbrella, the business has gone on to flourish. Indeed, CEO Andy Bruce has a unique relationship with the brand, having worked for Land Rover in the past. He remarked:
“Having appointed Shields as a Land Rover retailer 20 years ago, it has been so pleasing to see how the business has progressed over the years. When Lookers got the chance to acquire it we didn’t hesitate for a moment.”
Launched from a humble converted bodyshop in St Andrews Road, on January 2nd 1997, with stock of only 200 vehicles, Shields was then run by owner Joe O’Donnell. Speaking of the ethos at the time Joe said:
“We only ever sold cars we would buy ourselves. In fact to this I still drive a Range Rover and my wife Anne drives a Discovery. We recruited only the best staff, gave them top class training and the freedom to look after customers. A simple and very effective way to ensure very happy customers and great staff.”
From the St Andrews Road location customers could browse the Range Rover, Discovery and Defender models. Freelander was in the pipeline and at the time of its launch 80 orders were taken. By the end of 1998 the business was delivering over 500 cars a year.
In 2000 a flagship store was opened at its current location in Kennishead Road, Darnley. There, customers could relax whilst viewing the cars and watching their children playing safely in the custom designed play area complete with playstations. Large observation windows allowed customers to watch the Land Rover Range being put through its paces on the purpose built off road track.
This revolutionary design attracted interest from all over the world with overseas dealers regularly visiting to study the concepts.
Today customers can still browse and buy – but these days they can as easily find their favourite Evoque, Discovery or Sport online as they can at the state of the art Taggarts showroom.
As much as customers are delighted with the business, so too are the staff – many of whom have worked for the company for most of their careers.
One such person is Service Advisor Caroline Downey, who is testament to the enduring legacy started by Joe O’Donnell:
“Personally I feel the changes Taggarts have brought, with the rewards for service years, that I was lucky to receive last year, extra days holidays and a wonderful gift, have been fantastic. The Engage page has great information and you can see other events throughout the country.
I suppose what I enjoy most about my current position is firstly and most importantly the people I work with Lynn Beattie, Alex McLean and Willie Coll who have combined years of around 85 years, and I have worked with a lot of people. Also the job itself although demanding there are good times and you really feel appreciated when it all goes right.”
Proud of where it has come from, it’s where the business is going that is very exciting. Gordon Haining, Franchise Director, explains:
“Since acquiring the business in 2013, it has been a privilege to work with such great people who remain so loyal to the Land Rover brand and deliver the highest levels of service to our customers.
I very much look forward to continuing this when later this year we will embark on a complete refurbishment of the Kennishead Road business to accommodate Land Rover’s new Arch concept design, offering state of the art facilities for customers and staff alike. The will represent a significant investment for the group and is testament to our commitment to continue the great work achieved by the team over the past 20 years”