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Sytner buys Ryland sites

Ryland group has sold a large chunk of its motor retail operations in a move that will push Sytner Group into second place in the AM100.

Birmingham-based Ryland, headed by chief executive Peter Whale, has restructured as a new group named Rybrook Holdings, representing Honda, Jaguar and Volvo.

Industry observers anticipate its turnover to be around a third of the previous business’s £510m, which gave it 16th place in the AM100 ranking of the UK’s largest motor retailers.

Nevertheless, Whale claims Rybrook Holdings will be on a more stable footing. “The sale of a number of dealerships to Sytner Group will provide the new company with a secure financial base from which to go forward,” he says.

AM understands one reason was to reduce the business’s gearing. This had risen considerably when Whale took the family-founded business private in 2003, after nine years as a plc. He then refocused it on premium and luxury brands.

“I guess Sytner offered a good price for what it wanted, but I’m not sure what the point in hanging on to Jaguar, Volvo and Honda is,” says one motor retail analyst. “It depends on what the succession plan is.”

The businesses sold to Sytner comprise of Mercedes-Benz and Smart outlets in Carlisle, Newcastle, Stockton on Tees and Sunderland; BMW and Mini outlets in Cardiff, Newport, central Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and Warley; and Chrysler Jeep and Dodge outlets in Newcastle and Stockton-on-Tees.

These push Sytner’s turnover up from £1.78bn to nearly £2bn, sending it past Inchcape Retail into the second spot in the AM100. Sytner’s representation with Mercedes-Benz now totals 15 dealerships, and 17 outlets with BMW. Its Chrysler Jeep and Dodge representation increases to eight sites.

Gerard Nieuwenhuys, Sytner Group managing director, says the acquired businesses are strong performers and most will continue to trade under their established brands.

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Sytner Group

Sytner Group was founded in the 1968 in Nottingham by Frank Sytner and his brother Alan, owner of the famous Cavern Club, selling BMWs and specialist used cars. It continues to focus on retailing prestige and specialist new and used cars.

Expansion began in 1993 with the acquisition of two Midlands-based BMW businesses and over the next three years other prestige marques were added to the portfolio - Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, Audi, Land Rover, Chrysler Jeep and Porsche. In 1997, the company was floated on the stock market.

In 1998 a family-owned Jaguar and Land Rover business in Thames Ditton was purchased from Guy Salmon. Salmon had built a successful business based on providing outstanding customer service and today all Sytner Jaguar and Land Rover businesses bear his name.

The largest single acquisition in Sytner’s history was made in August 1999.

The purchase of Ixion Group almost almost doubled the number of dealerships in the group and saw the addition of new brands Saab, Volvo and Lexus.

Since then Toyota has been added.

In 2002 agreement was reached for the purchase of Sytner by the US’s second largest car retail group Penske Automotive.

In 2004 two multi-dealership acquisitions were made: Aston Green Ltd and Glenvarigill Ltd. Aston Green more than doubled the number of Audi dealerships in the group with a cluster of locations including in the South. Glenvarigill enabled Sytner to expand north of the border into Scotland with additions to the specialist division including Bentley, Ferrari and Maserati.

In 2006 the William Jacks Group Plc, consisting of 15 franchises representing BMW, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, MINI, Rolls-Royce and Volvo was acquired and expansion continued with Chrysler Jeep in Bristol acquired from the Dick LovettGroup.

In 2007, acquisition continued with the purchase of nine Ryland businesses; these included the DaimlerChrysler dealerships in the North East together with the BMW and Mini dealerships in the west Midlands and South West.

Later in 2007 Sytner added to the year’s acquisitions with the Nottingham and Leicester Audi Businesses, previously owned by the John Fox Group plus the exciting acquisition of the historical Maranello Egham, further adding to Sytner's Ferrari and Maserati portfolio.

In late 2008 Sytner once again brought VW under their banner and also introduced Seat through the acquisition of the Richard Alexander Group.

Alongside corporate growth has been a determination to ensure the satisfaction and growing capabilities of its staff with the belief that satisfied staff leads to satisfied customers.

Staff are given a voice through the bi-annual ‘viewpoint’ survey, dealer principals’ forum and managers’ conferences.

Sytner has twice been named in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list along with winning Automotive Management’s ‘Employer of the Year’ award in 2008.

Since 2002 Sytner has been owned by the Penske Automotive Group, based in Michigan USA.

It has 172 franchises in the US and Puerto Rico and 155 internationally, mostly in the UK.

In December 2011 Penske secured a £110 million credit facility from the Royal Bank of Scotland and BMW Financial Services to fund growth.

A month later, Sytner acquired, for an undisclosed sum, the Isaac Agnew Group, reinforcing its Northern Ireland operation with the purchase of 16 dealerships.

The acquisition was a share purchase and the dealerships operate as an autonomous division of Sytner Group and trade under their existing dealership names.

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Sytner Group Turnover

Profit before tax

Sytner Group profit before tax
profit guide


Sytner Group gearing
gearing guide

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