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Damon Hill buys into motor retailing

Ex-Formula One racing champion Damon Hill has said he has serious intentions of growing his car retail business after today announcing the acquisition of the Warwick Sytner BMW dealership for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase has been done in partnership with his manager Michael Breen and Nick Whale, founder of the Nick Whale Group in March 1999 when he bought two dealerships from the Ryland Group, and together the three have launched Damon Hill Ltd.

The deal includes Warwick Sytner's new and used vehicle stock. The territory includes Warwick, Leamington and Startford. The 65 staff will remain with the business, which has annual sales of £22 million.

Predicted throughput of new cars is expected to be 450 units and used cars about 300 a year.

Mr Hill said: “I won't be visiting the dealership every day because I live in Surrey, but I will be more than just a name on the door and am conscious of the importance of keeping staff motivated so will be putting in regular appearances.”

Discussions are already underway with “other leading specialist car manufacturers” as part of a strategic expansion drive by the new company in the region. Mr Hill would not elaborate, but said the company would seek to grow gradually.

"I want to take this one step at a time," he said.

Mr Hill will be president responsible for external customer events, including golf and corporate track days. Mr Whale is managing director responsible for management of the dealership.

He said: “I believe this venture will be an enormous boost to BMW in the region and the motor industry now has a new name and instantly recognisable face.”

The Nick Whale Group currently has Lexus franchise dealerships in Birmingham and Coventry as well as a Toyota franchise dealership in Coventry and Solihull. It also has a Lotus dealership in Birmingham operating under the name Nick Whale Sports Cars.

Damon Hill Ltd has established a website, This, Mr Whale said, would be used as a 'shop window' rather than a point-of-sale and there are plans to enable on-line service bookings.

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