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Controlled Caledonia maps out strategy for the future

New non-executive director Alec Murray has forecast considerable further growth for Caledonia Motor Group.

“The business is in its infancy,” said Mr Murray, who retired from Quicks at the end of last year. “It has considerable potential for growth over the next few years but it will be in a controlled way. I like the board's strategy.”

Mr Murray, who ran Ford Credit before his move into motor retailing, is a member of a National Franchised Dealers Association steering committee and will advise Caledonia on Block Exemption and other issues.

Caledonia has most of its dealerships in the North-west where its rivals include Lookers and Quicks. Richard Barber, who succeeded Mr Murray as Quicks chief executive, resigned in March shortly before the group's results were announced.

Caledonia, with a £211m turnover, is a management buy-out from the private business run by the Barclay brothers from their own island in the Channel Isles.

When the Barclays decided to withdraw from motor retailing, Paul Batty raised finance to take control of the business he had been running for them.

Mr Batty is now chairman and chief executive of Caledonia which has 26 franchised sales points and three used car centres. The bulk of its outlets are in an area stretching from Morecambe in the north down to Chester.

“We see no benefit in becoming a national group,” said Mr Batty. “We quickly sold a group of dealerships to Reg Vardy plc so we could concentrate on one area.

“Any growth will be outwards from our North-west heartland though we have a number of isolated outlets which we will continue to operate while they remain profitable.”

The group has six Renault dealerships and Mr Batty said he was talking to Nissan about possible expansion under the two manufacturer's joint network strategy.

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