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Gowrings quits motor retailing to bolster burger business

Gowrings, the Ford dealer to fast food group, is withdrawing from the motor retail sector after agreeing terms to sell three showrooms. The company will use profits to expand its Burger King business, which currently has 43 outlets.

City Motor Holdings (CMH) paid £1.4m for the Ford dealership and accident repair centre in Newbury, Berkshire. Gowrings expects to make £100,000 profit on the sale of the operation, which last year generated pre-tax profits of £424,000 on £18.2m turnover.

The business, which will continue to trade under the Gowrings name, will form part of a larger Ford market area. CMH intends to open a new outlet in Basingstoke - also trading as Gowrings. A deal has also been agreed with an undisclosed dealer for the group's Wokingham and Bracknell outlets. The sale is subject to shareholders' consent but should be completed by the end of August.

Gowrings has been reviewing its business structure for the past 18 months and was starting to face pressure from Ford and the City to outline its future strategy.

“Ford wanted us to expand and the City wanted us to choose between being a motor retailer or a restaurant business,” says chief executive Derek Coulson.

“If we had sold the restaurant division and focused on motor, we would have risked being acquired like other smaller dealer groups. “The businesses will now benefit from the support of a dedicated motor group which will be able to further develop them,” he adds.

The motor division turned over £86m last year, placing Gowrings at No83 in the AM100. Profits doubled to £1.17m. The company will retain bodyshops in Swindon, Oxford and Wokingham.

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