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‘No comment’ Sytner linked to bid for Massingberd sites

Sytner is believed to be trying to beat off rival groups in a move to acquire Harrogate-based Massingberd Group plc, which has three Volkswagen dealerships and one Audi centre.

The move comes as other dealers with the two franchises, who asked not to be named, stated their concern about an apparent Volkswagen strategy to separate dealer ownership in many cities and towns.

Massingberd has been a likely acquisition target for many years because it has dealerships in affluent areas of North Yorkshire.

Michael Massingberd, executive chairman, founded the company 43 years ago. Now in his sixties, he is indicating that the time may be close to his departure from motor retailing.

“There has been talk about us being bought up or going bust since we started,” says Massingberd. “We have had numerous approaches but I have not had any discussions with a Sytner director.

“Sytner is not in the frame, but it could be if it came up with a serious offer. I have daughters who are not interested in continuing the business. I wouldn’t want them to anyway because of the way things have changed in the industry, and the way car manufacturers play their games.”

The quality of the group and its locations make it attractive. Massingberd Northallerton last year came second in VW’s CSi ratings chart and it has an Audi centre at Knaresborough, near Harrogate.

Laurence Vaughan, Sytner chairman, will not comment on industry speculation about a bid for Massingberd. In AM (May 21), he says: “Every purchase last year was an introduced opportunity from the manufacturer and this strategy will continue – it makes for a more constructive relationship.”

Sytner, now part of the cash-rich American United Auto Group, has a Volkswagen dealership in Leeds, and Audi centres in Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield. This would not conflict with a Volkswagen policy which is understood to encourage different groups to own VW and Audi outlets in each city or town as it further separates the two brands.

Sytner has also been linked with a move for Scottish premium group Glenvarigill, which confirms it is in discussions with potential purchasers for its Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati outlets in Edinburgh and Porsche dealership in Glasgow – as part of a five-year plan to refocus on its Audi, VW and Honda franchises.

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