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Jaguar Land Rover Spegelaere is a long-time household name in the capital of West Flanders. The company is steered into the future by Filip and Frederik, whose passion for everything that runs on four wheels was kindled at an early age. They left the beaches of Knokke to set up a successful family business in Bruges. The company has been in high gear ever since.
Grown up with flour and classic cars
"My father was a baker", Filip begins. "Apart from the bakery, he also had a keen interest in cars, in particular classic cars. When we were little, we liked to drive around in the Range Rover. His first classic car was a Willys Jeep; he also bought an old Jaguar XK later on. So it's no wonder that my brother and I decided to study automotive engineering. My first job was with Land Rover in Ostend. But then a great location became available in Bruges, which did not yet have a Land Rover garage at the time."
The year is 1997. Filip is 23, his brother Frederik 27. The entrepreneurial spirit in their blood gets the upper hand. "My brother and I decided to take the plunge. We started in a rental property in Oostkamp. When the building in Bruges was finished, we moved to the current location. In the beginning, we distributed Land Rover and MG Rover cars. We did everything ourselves: sales, administration, maintenance and repairs. As you can imagine, we worked long days. Consequently, we started employing staff pretty soon. MG Rover went bankrupt in 2005, but Land Rover sales were high enough to keep our company growing."
Running a business means making bold decisions
"In 2016 we started selling Jaguar as a result of global cooperation between Land Rover and Jaguar. This required us to make significant alterations to our building and showroom. We consulted with our architect whether we should adjust the current building or erect a brand-new one. As the building was still under twenty years old at that time, this seemed rather drastic. Another possibility was to rent out or sell the building, but you do not have that many locations that are perfect for a garage in Bruges, so we soon decided to start from scratch again. This was quite an undertaking."
"We currently employ twenty people. My brother and I understand each other perfectly. The number of arguments we have had over the past twenty years can be counted on the fingers of one hand."
"Initially, our uncle Erik Martens took care of the accounts. He was an accountant in Merelbeke and came up with an outstanding financial plan. Erik provided us with great advice and guidance until he fell ill and passed away. Before he died, he left his office to Titeca Accountancy. We have meanwhile made the switch to the office in Roeselare. We work closely together with Bram, Veerle and Marijke in particular. I especially like the fact that Titeca Accountancy is much more than just an accounting firm: they provide guidance to entrepreneurs in a wide variety of fields. Titeca Accountancy has for instance supported us in the realisation of this new building with a sound financial plan. Marijke took care of the negotiations with the bank. She's really great at this. We have worked together with our account manager Veerle for many years now. I attach great importance to this relationship of trust. She has a thorough understanding of our history and our file. In addition, Veerle knows the brand well, which is for example important within the scope of our reporting obligations versus Jaguar Land Rover."
Back to the coast
When asked what advice he can give to young entrepreneurs, Filip doesn't have to think long. "Keep your feet firmly on the ground even when everything is going very well. Business may stagnate or decrease at any given time. We were for instance severely impacted by the 2008 financial crisis. A good accountant is essential in such a situation. He or she keeps an eye on your figures and prevents you from taking unnecessary risks. Our new building required a huge investment, and I was very glad that we had Titeca Accountancy on our side!"
His business is on the fast track, but Filip is going fast too from time to time. "I love going for a run or a mountain bike ride in the evening to clear my head. At the weekend we often return to Knokke, where my parents still live. I like living in Bruges, but I miss the sea."
Travelling and touring
Filip does not yet know what the future holds for his business. "I have two daughters, aged 13 and 15. It would be great if one of them continued the business, but I leave that up to them. They have definitely also developed an interest in cars. We go on a 4x4 trip with customers twice a year: one weekend and one longer trip. We always drive across a different country. We have already been to Hungary, Scotland, Wales, Finland and Corsica."
True love for automobiles
It's hard for Filip to choose: "It's impossible to name one favourite car; it's like choosing between your children. The large Range Rover is the best car ever in my view, but at the moment I really like the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, which drives like a dream. In the summer I like driving my Defender cabriolet, with the dog sitting in the trunk with his ears blowing in the wind. If you love cars, it's indeed a great advantage to be a car dealer."
"Our new building required a huge investment, and I was very glad that we had Titeca Accountancy on our side!"