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Whichford 'still trading' despite losing 12 outlets

Glencullen, the Irish motor distributor, appears to have failed in its bid to build an influential UK retail network through Whichford whose outlets have been reduced from 18 to six.

In last month's AM100, Whichford stood at 48 with a turnover of £130.2m (Automotive Management estimate). According to the listing, the number of dealerships had fallen to 12 from 18 a year earlier.

A company spokesman for Bill Cullen's group would not give details of the outlets it had lost but denied Whichford was being dismantled because of serious financial difficulties. He said the company was now trading at break-even and had a platform from which to rebuild.

“At least we've survived a difficult trading environment,” said the spokesman. “A lot of people haven't.” City Motor Holdings has a two-year option to buy Whichford's Basingstoke, Hants, site, which holds the Rover, Peugeot, Toyota and Citroen franchises.

Managing director Anthony Wickins said CMH also had an option to develop another site in the town. Mike Withers, of Berkshire Motor Holdings, said his company had taken back the leases on four sites, including Whichford Honda at Maidenhead and High Wycombe.

BMH has also taken back a major site at Bray, which lost the Citroen outlet. At an ex-Toyota site at Butterwick Green, BMH is running the forecourt business but is considering whether to develop the rest of the site.

According to the company, Whichford retains the Honda dealership in Beaconsfield and Buckhurst Hill; Peugeot outlets at Harlow and Reading; a Mazda dealership at Maidenhead; and Hyundai's Swindon outlet. Whichford also lost its Ford Godalming outlet.

Glencullen confirmed that late last year, a new management team was put in at Whichford. Merchants Capital Company's team running Whichford for Glencullen included Noel Morris, made Whichford managing director, and Hazel Venables, chief financial officer.

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