The 49-year-old steps down at the end of the year, after coming to the end of his current three-year contract. He turned down MCL’s offer of a three-year extension, but says he is parting on amicable terms and with the group in a strong position.
“It’s a personal decision – I need fresh challenges,” says Heslop. “I’m talking to private equity companies about setting up a new venture but there’s also the chance of joining another company in the industry.”
MCL will not be appointing a successor. Chairman Ike Shibata will take on some responsibilities with the rest of Heslop’s role divided between the heads of MCL’s retail and finance divisions, including chief operating officer Darren Payne.
Heslop adds: “I am leaving the business when it is strong – I couldn’t or wouldn’t leave if it was weak. MCL has a strong balance sheet and the support of Itochu.”
MCL, which lost the Kia importership in 2002 and Mazda in 2001, restructured the business to focus on car retail through its Autoplanet car supermarkets.
Last month it acquired the Waters retail group of five Peugeot and four Renault dealerships, doubling turnover to £150m. Payne told AM he was targeting a place in the AM100 top 50 within three years.