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'Colossus' Pendragon could be Ford target

Ford Premier Automotive Group might follow Mercedes-Benz UK in gaining control of areas around major cities by acquiring Pendragon or taking a major stake, said London Chrysler Jeep dealer Clive Sutton.

He was a speaker at a Sewells Information and Research conference which considered the future shape of motor retailing in the light of next year's Block Exemption revision.

Mr Sutton said only time would tell whether Pendragon would continue to be “the colossus of the industry or a division of Ford Motor Company with a large property portfolio”.

Pendragon, the UK's largest dealer group, has many dealerships representing PAG's Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover brands. Ford has a stake in the Pendragon outlets selling its 'blue oval' cars.

Soon after Pendragon took a west London Jaguar/Land Rover site from HR Owen, Ford bought Land Rover, Mr Sutton said. “A logical next step would be for Pendragon to sell 50% to Ford,” said Mr Sutton. “Eventually, maybe the grand plan is for Ford to buy Pendragon outright.

“This would then result in PAG achieving outright ownership of the capital's outlets rather as Mercedes has now declared its intent.”

He added: “You will either admire or hold responsible the way in which Trevor Finn and his team have changed the face of some franchises' representation.”

The Fiat/Alfa plan to take out individual dealers within the M25 and replace them with Pendragon had “failed spectacularly”.

A number of enthusiastic dealers would, if properly supported and nurtured over the years, have delivered a better result in terms of brand as well as volume.

“Alfa Romeo, in particular, deserves a much higher volume of sales in the capital which it would have undoubtedly achieved if sold by enthusiasts."

Trevor Finn, Pendragon chief executive, was not available for comment.

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