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Ford/Polar increases sales hold in Surrey

Ford of Britain, which last year recorded a pre-tax loss of £119m, has increased its retail influence with the purchase , for an undisclosed price, of two Surrey dealerships through Polar Motor Group.

Epsom-based Page Holdings has sold its Ford outlets in the town and at Leatherhead, Surrey, to Polar which is soon likely to buy a third dealership, at Leatherhead.

The move confirms Ford's intention to press on with the programme to keep building Polar, its joint venture with Jardine Motor Holdings. Ford also has a 49% stake in its dealerships run by Pendragon, the UK's largest motor retail group.

Ford chief executive Jac Nasser, in the UK to complete the Land Rover acquisition, has given Ford of Europe chairman Nick Scheele full authority to turn loss into profit.

They are thought to favour the policy of Ford of Britain chairman Ian McAllister who has said ideas tried by a group of manufacturer-controlled outlets will be shared with the network.

Ken Checkley, Polar finance director, said: “It will give us Ford representation in a large part of leafy Surrey.” The combined market area turnover will rise to £60m with the addition of the Page businesses which last year turned over £24m, selling 950 new and 800 used cars.

Ford dealers are wondering how the UK market leader lost £119m on a turnover of £6.29bn after two years in profit.

Mr McAllister blamed the £119m loss on controversy surrounding car pricing which forced Ford and other manufacturers to “respond to customer concern”. He expected the UK market to remain “extremely competitive” this year.

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