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Lookers in talks with BMW and Mercedes

Lookers Group is involved in discussions with BMW and Mercedes-Benz as it looks to add the two premium brands to its portfolio.

The addition of the German marques would be a great boost for the group and add to its list of premium brands such as Audi and Lexus.

“Discussions are currently ongoing, but we are hopeful that a positive outcome will be reached sooner rather than later,” says Lookers chief executive, Ken Surgenor.

The group, which has more than 80 dealerships and an annual turnover of £790m, represents 22 manufacturers in the UK. Volume brands include Citroen, Volkswagen, Honda, Peugeot, Renault, Nissan and Vauxhall while premium marques include Jaguar, Aston Martin, Saab, Volvo, Bentley and Ferrari. The proposed addition of BMW and Mercedes would cement Lookers' position in the premium market.

Current trading continues to be strong for the top 10 group, in line with its interim results when it announced a pre-tax profit rise of 34 per cent to more than £10m on £516m turnover. Both new and used car sales were up 20 per cent on the same period last year. New car sales on a like for like basis outperformed the market by six per cent.

Lookers also operates Europe's largest motor retail village. The Charles Hurst dealership is an 18-acre, 12-car franchise site in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and currently sells one in five of all new cars in the province.

The business is also providing Lookers with a template for a multi-marque used car supermarket operation – Lookers Used Direct – which is likely to be launched in England next year. Two sites are being considered with Essex and Manchester/Liverpool, areas where Lookers has a cluster of new car franchised showrooms, the most likely options.

The Belfast Used Direct site retails 5000 cars a year. Half are purchased by other Lookers dealerships.

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