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Retailers confident on Phoenix future

Rover dealers have expressed a mixture of relief and optimism at the news that BMW has agreed to sell Rover Cars to Phoenix Consortium, headed by John Towers.

Richard Haytack, managing director of Horners in the North-west, called Mr Towers a “capable and competent” businessman who was well-liked by the dealer network and Longbridge workers.

“Rover has never had a better model range, our sales were up 350% last month on 1999. We may now look to expand with another Rover franchise,” Haytack said.

Mr Towers said: “We are delighted that together with BMW we have secured a brighter future for Rover and its stakeholders. This is the first step in a series of changes which will fully justify the confidence and support which has kept this process going.”

He plans to make up to 250,000 cars a year, and hopes to make less than 2,000 redundancies, but a BMW spokeswoman said a decision over the Rover brand name hinged on discussions with Ford on its planned acquisition of Land Rover.

“We have to safeguard the Land Rover trade mark,” she said. “Although Rover will be completely sold to Phoenix, we must wait before making a decision on the Rover brand name.”

Rover sales last month were the best for 10 years, with nearly 20,000 cars registered.

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