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Ford shoots to No 10 after Polar buyout

Ford Retail UK, the carmaker's wholly-owned dealer group, is set to storm into the AM100 top 10 after Ford of Europe contracted to buy Jardine Motors Group's 51% share in Polar Motor Group, its joint venture.

The transaction, which will give Ford 100% ownership, will add 56 outlets to the business, which was created when Ford of Britain purchased 11 of the 12 Quartic Motor Group dealerships in December 2002. Turnover is likely to exceed £850m, placing it 10th in the AM100 (it was in 36th place in November).

Earl Hesterberg, Ford of Europe vice-president for sales, marketing and service, personally oversaw the acquisition. “Outright ownership of Polar is a natural fit for Ford Retail Europe's strategy, giving us control of Ford representation in key metropolitan areas. It will not only enable us to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction but also industry-leading levels of parts availability,” he says.

Hesterberg's comment “key metropolitan areas” suggests Ford will be looking to add sites in other UK cities, although a spokesman claims no further acquisitions are planned. Ford now controls 14 central market areas – including Bristol, Manchester, Greater London, York and Bradford – which will account for around 13% of its UK registrations.

Polar Motor Group managing director Alun Jones will stay with Jardine, but finance director Ken Checkley and sales and marketing director Bob Grant will remain on the Polar board. Eamon Bradley, Jardine Motors chairman, and Sam Houston, Jardine financial director, will resign from the Polar board when the deal, widely expected after Jardine shareholders snubbed a Ford request to buy Quartic, is completed at the end of this month.

Although the purchase was made by Ford of Europe under the Ford Retail Europe name, the business will be part of Ford Retail UK, and managed by current chairman and chief executive Chris Hayden. Ford has yet to make a decision on the group's trading name – most of its sites are branded Dagenham Motors – although the former Quartic business still trade under the Heartlands, Brunel and Atlantic badges.

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