AM Online

Inchcape to sell Ferrari distribution rights?

Speculation is mounting that Inchcape Retail intends to become the UK's biggest dealer group next year with plans to sell Ferrari UK distribution in order to fund a buying spree.

A well-placed source says the £929m turnover company, currently ranked sixth in the AM100, is to sell Surrey-based Maranello Concessionaires along with UK distribution rights for Ferrari and Maserati to the Italian factory ready for a January 1, 2005, start up. Neither Inchcape nor Maranello Concessionaires is prepared to comment.

Maserati recorded its best ever month for new car registrations in September selling 70 Coupes and Spyders, beating the previous record of 51 in September 2001. No information is available for Ferrari.

Inchcape is also at the centre of speculation that it is about to snatch distribution for Subaru from the IM Group, a rumour the Midlands-based distributor vehemently denies. But one analyst suggests Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, which is already responsible for distribution in the US and has a stake in German and Swiss suppliers, may be about to take responsibility for the UK. He points to recent events that saw distribution for both Kia and Mazda taken in-house from the previous UK distributor MCL Group.

“The carmaker-dealer relationship is much more necessary to make the new block exemption rules work for both parties. It seems difficult for the intermediary to add value,” says one automotive analyst.

Inchcape still holds a 40 per cent stake in MCL Group, which it has been trying to sell to Japanese majority holder Itochu.

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