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Major car retailers swing into acquisitive mood

Floods of new acquisitions are set to shake up the automotive retail sector with major expansion plans unveiled for dealers including Lookers, Wellington Motors, John R. Weir and Robinsons.

Lookers, one of the UK's leading car retail groups, has gained the Renault franchise for Altrincham, south Manchester, and Northwich, central Cheshire, after it bought the share capital of Jackson and Edwards.

It takes the total number of Lookers Renault dealerships to 13, and is expected to add £15m to the group's turnover with sales of 1200 cars a year.

Wellington Motors has also expanded with the acquisition of the JFE Nissan business in Exeter, which includes the body repair centre business. It will take the group's turnover to £32m with new and used car sales totalling more than 3000 units.

John R. Weir, Scotland's largest Mercedes-Benz dealership group, has unveiled a £3.7m blueprint to create a new hi-tech facility in Dundee with a 12-car showroom and six-bay workshop. It will also refurbish its centre in Perth.

Robinsons, the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Norwich, has acquired Vardy Continental of Cambridge, giving the group four sites altogether. The firm expects to sell about 700 new and used cars from the site.

Clive Shakesheff, who sold Monarch Mercedes-Benz to DaimlerChrysler last year, has bought Volkswagen Solihull from motor group Caledonia for an undisclosed sum. Shakesheff's sons William and Matthew are also board members.

The purchase has been backed by working capital from the Co-operative Bank's Birmingham business centre. The Shakesheffs are now aiming at annual sales of 1000 new and used units and predicting a turnover of £15m.

Nance Walker, corporate manager at Co-op, says: “This deal is good business for us in light of the potential. We are supporting an experienced management with a successful track record in the purchase of a dealership in a prime location.”

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