The group, which lost its Ford franchises in the late Nineties after a board level bust-up with the manufacturer, paid Pendragon £2m for Aylesbury Ford, Chiltern Ford in High Wycombe and the staff of Chiltern Ford in Amersham.
The 16,500sq ft Aylesbury site will house Ford, Fiat, Seat and Alfa Romeo under the same roof – the first time Ford has multi-franchised alongside non Ford-owned brands. More than £1m is being spent on re-developing the premises, which also includes Ford servicing and Ford Rapid Fit operations.
The showroom, which has one main entrance, has low-level barriers to split the four franchises. Brand specialist sales staff report to one central sales manager. Ford says other retailers are in the process of opening multi-franchised outlets in line with the new block exemption rules introduced last October.
In order to accommodate the new franchise at Aylesbury, Perrys is moving its repair operation to a new £500,000 26,000sq ft facility. This site, located behind the dealership, will house an accident repair operation as well as a training academy for the group.
Perrys is hoping to add more Ford sites, although there is nothing firm in the pipeline. Ken Savage, Perrys chairman, says the move is part of a wider plan to grow the business by expanding its sites and manufacturer partners. Currently, Perrys has 37 franchise points across 25 locations.
Since he led Perrys' management buyout in March 2001, turnover, profit and new car sales have increased. Turnover has risen from £258m to £320m with pre-tax profits increasing from £2m to £5m over the same period. New and used car sales are also up. In 2003, Perrys sold 16,000 new cars and 16,500 used. This year it is budgeting for 18,000 new and 18,000 used.
“Our strategy is to look for franchise and representation in areas where have got current businesses,” says Savage. “The reason we are successful is because we train our people. But it is also because we set realistic goals. Our objective isn't to be one of the biggest groups it's to be one of the most profitable.”