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Polar targets new Ford CMA casualty

The Ford and Jardine Motors joint venture Polar Group has emerged as a likely buyer for First Ford, the Glasgow-based retailer put into receivership by Ford Credit Europe.

Polar is already favourite to acquire Quartic Motor Group's 12- location, Ford territories in Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester – the sale is expected to be confirmed within two weeks.

Although Arnold Clark, Reg Vardy and Peoples have also been tipped as interested parties, Polar is the insiders' choice for First Ford and its associated companies First Motor Company, Eleander and Wylies.

The Scottish retailer has eight Ford dealerships in and around Glasgow – seven of which are freehold – with a turnover of £100m and 300 employees.

Receiver Grant Thornton says it has been talking to several companies but declines to name them. It expects to dispose of the business as a going concern with few redundancies. As well as new and used car sales the group also retails automotive parts and accessories.

“Strategically, First Ford is well placed and we've been in discussions with a number of big dealers since our appointment,” says Grant Thornton recovery and reorganisation services partner, and joint receiver, Nigel Ruddock.

“It is very much business as usual throughout the group and while the staff were obviously shocked at the announcement last Friday we actually had a very good weekend.”

Ruddock adds that although the Scottish motor retail sector has improved over the last year, First Ford had struggled to be profitable in the immediate period after its creation in 2000 following the merger of Eleander and Wylies.

No comment was forthcoming from Polar at the time of going to press. Earlier this year managing director Alun Jones said he was looking to expand Polar representation following the acquisition of Pendragon's Ford north London customer market area (CMA).

It also operates CMAs in east, north-west, west and south-west London, trading as Dagenham Motors, and has Ford dealerships across the M62 corridor.

Ford has suffered a number of setbacks to its CMA approach. In addition to First Ford and Quartic, Hamer Group, Blakes and Corners have all collapsed in recent years, several blaming the CMA strategy.

n Sir Tom Farmer, John Houston and Peter Holmes have resigned from former Ford-owned Kwik-Fit.

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