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Inchcape plc enhances business services offering

Automotive services group Inchcape plc has announced two new deals, one the acquisition from the management of the remaining 51% stake in Eurofleet Limited and the second an agreement to handle remarketing and fleet management activities for Fiat Auto UK's fleet of used vehicles for the next three years.

Inchcape acquired 49% of Eurofleet in December 2000 for £12.3m and the acquisition of the outstanding stake – for £12.9m - means Inchcape can offer a portfolio of services including fleet management, a full logistics and refurbishment capability, as well as remarketing expertise. Europe, where the market for nearly new car refurbishment and remarketing is less advanced than in the UK is being targeted as an area of growth for Inchcape.

Eurofleet operates from facilities in Kettering, Corby, Portbury and Scotland, and employs approximately 800 people.

For the year ended 31 December 2000 it achieved sales of £44.1m and net operating profit of £5.2m. Net liabilities were £9.3m including £25.2m of debt financing.

Peter Johnson, Inchcape plc group chief executive, said: “This investment is a very important part of our expansion into business services. The market here and in Continental Europe has considerable growth potential.

Inchcape's contract with Fiat will see Eurofleet manage pre-delivery inspection, transportation, vehicle refurbishment and storage.

AutoCascade, the vehicle remarketing company jointly owned by Inchcape and Avis Europe, will electronically remarket vehicles to dealers via a web-enabled dealer stock locator and twice weekly electronic auctions.

Jim Blades, Fiat Auto UK's managing director, said: “The partnership between Fiat Auto UK and Inchcape will greatly enhance profit opportunities for all Fiat and Alfa Romeo approved used car dealers. We are confident that these developments will allow Fiat Auto UK and its approved used car dealers to jointly offer our products to a wider retail audience. In addition we will be using the most up to date technology to remarket our stock to the dealer network."

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