Four sites – Banstead, Croydon, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells – were netted after the group this week completed the £12m acquisition of L&C Holdings, the £106.3m turnover Kent-based BMW retailer. Two extra dealerships in Cobham and Wimbledon were brought from William Jacks for £7.7m.
Joining the existing BMW site in Thames Ditton, they give Inchcape the largest territory in terms of population in the UK. Last year this region sold 3500 new BMWs and more than 1000 new Minis – four per cent of both marques' sales.
As part of the network reshuffle, Inchcape has sold its BMW and Mini sites in Harold Wood and Chigwell to a subsidiary of the Sytner group for a total of £11.5m.
Peter Johnson, Inchcape group chief executive, says manufacturers are seeking scale relationships with financially strong retailers. He wants Inchcape to have five to 10 per cent of its key franchise partners' market share, including Ford PAG, Mercedes and Toyota/Lexus.
“Our balance sheet leaves us well placed to take advantage of the consolidation that appears likely following the new dealer agreements in October,” adds Johnson.
The group, which posted worldwide pre-tax profits of £63.7m on turnover of £1.9bn for the first half of 2003, looks set for a multi-million pound payout from the taxman after overpaying tax from 1973 to 1994 on demo cars that were later sold.