Lookers plc will soon start major redevelopment work at its Charles Hurst Group headquarters in Boucher Road, Belfast. The redevelopment will be centred around the creation of brand new separate Nissan and Renault showrooms, supported by a joint back-office facility, and the building of a separate Lexus showroom. There will also be expansion of the recently launched UseDirect, used car operations.
The investment by Lookers is set to top £4m and the work will be completed by the middle of next year.
Fred Maguire, Lookers plc chairman, said: "We believe our Charles Hurst main complex is totally unique. It is the largest multi-franchise operation on a single site in Europe. We achieve huge economies of scale and yet we manage to achieve total brand separation through dedicated management systems and teams. Most important of all, we are highly successful at selling cars and looking after individual customers for our manufacturer partners."
Charles Hurst Group takes 25% of the new car sales in Northern Ireland. The 16-acre site in Boucher Road houses nine different manufacturer brands and employs around 600 people. It is also home to the five Charles Hurst motorcycle franchises, Charles Hurst tyres, a contract hire operation and Express Factors.
Andy Bruce, Charles Hurst Group operations director, says the multi-franchise site allows the company to offer manufacturer partners "the best of both worlds".
"We enjoy economies of scale by having all our major operations in close proximity and cutting back office costs – but our individual managers and their teams are dedicated to their brand. There is no crossover whatsoever," he said.
"We replicate the philosophy and motivation of a typical 'owner-driver' business but provide the financial backing to achieve results. Managers are entirely autonomous in running the businesses and are rewarded on their individual success. If anything, competition between brands is more intense because of internal peer group pressure."