Bramall, who could not be contacted as AM went to press, is thought to want the dealerships as the nucleus for his third enterprise in motor retailing. He has increased his personal wealth, and his successful track record would encourage financial institutions to put up the money to back his judgement.
As one of Britain's most enterprising car dealers, Bramall made a fortune in the Eighties and retired early as a wealthy man, but became bored after a year and returned to build a new business. By last November, CD Bramall's turnover was £1.645bn according to the AM100.
In February, after secret negotiations with Pendragon chief executive Trevor Finn, Bramall agreed to sell his business, which transformed Pendragon into Europe's largest motor retail group, with a turnover exceeding £3.5bn.
A 'non-compete' clause is believed to have been signed as part of the Pendragon/Bramall deal to safeguard Finn's business. Pendragon did not have Audi dealerships which is why Finn is thought to have waived the clause to allow Bramall's purchase of the Audi sites. Robin Slough, Audi network development manager, says the carmaker wanted to keep the franchises within its existing network. “We negotiated with Pendragon and Tony Bramall to enable them to realise this. Tony Bramall has now set up a joint venture and now owns the business in Lincoln and Grimsby,” he says.
Audi has also terminated the sales franchise agreement at Pendragon's third site, in St Albans, Herts, and is now talking to Finn about transferring the business to an existing partner.