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Inchcape accelerates Eastern Europe acquisitions

Inchcape plc, the international automotive services group, has announced a number of acquisitions, as its expansion into Eastern Europe gathers pace.

The company’s current representation in Eastern Europe includes distribution for Toyota in Romania, Bulgaria and FYROM (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and exclusive retail for Toyota in Bucharest, Sofia and Skopje. It also imports and distributes for Mazda, Jaguar and Land Rover in the Baltic States.

These businesses, in total, sold more than 6,600 units in 2003 and had a turnover of about £75m.

In 2004 these markets grew, on average, by more than 30% and are forecast to continue strongly over the next five years.

In Estonia, in order to develop its vertically integrated distribution and retail business model, Inchcape has acquired the country’s two independent Mazda retailers. The total investment in these was £5.3m. As a result Inchcape is now the exclusive importer and retailer for Mazda in this ‘city state’ market.

Mazda sold more than 1,500 units in Estonia in 2003 and had a market share of 9.3%.

In Poland Inchcape has just opened two BMW/Mini dealerships. The first is situated in the capital city of Warsaw and the second is in Wroclaw, in the west of the country. These dealerships required a total initial investment of £3.0 including working capital. By the end of 2005 these businesses should achieve sales of some 700 new and used cars.

Group chief executive Peter Johnson says the company is well positioned to expand on this initial investment and is confident of developing its partnership with BMW further to develop a significant business in Poland, which will benefit from the economies of scale that will be created.

"Our recent success in the Balkans demonstrates our ability to build scale businesses in emerging markets,” says Johnson.

"We are greatly encouraged by the recent development in Estonia where we now have a fully integrated business, and we are delighted with our new venture in Poland. We will continue to expand in these markets."

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