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Rivals for years rolling together

HR Owen has tightened its grip on the luxury car market in London by buying the Jack Barclay Rolls-Royce and Bentley franchise from Dutton Forshaw. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The move will give HR Owen a prime site in Berkeley Square, central London, for its Bentley business when the two marques are split between BMW and Volkswagen Group at the end of 2002. The Rolls-Royce franchise is likely to move to the BMW showroom in Holland Park, west London.

Jack Barclay, founded in 1927, is the largest and longest established Rolls-Royce and Bentley distributor in the world. It moved to Berkeley Square in 1953 and, in 1993, was appointed world distributor of pre-1955 parts for both brands. It has a purpose built aftersales centre in Nine Elms, south London.

HR Owen founder Captain Harold Rolfe Owen launched his company in 1932 by selling Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars from a showroom in Berkeley Square.

Nick Lancaster, HR Owen chief executive, said: “The consolidation of HR Owen and Jack Barclay, which have competed for nearly 70 years, will allow us to capitalise on our strong presence at the top end of the market while continuing the great traditions of both companies.”

The acquisition fits perfectly with a policy outlined by Mr Lancaster in an interview with Automotive Management (August 18). He said he wanted his group to become the Harrods of the retail motor industry, adding: “I believe there is a place for a motor group providing a premium service.”

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