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FPS ‘to remain independent’

Wholesale parts distributor FPS has described its acquisition by the Lookers retail group as an important move in securing its future on a path to expansion that will see a 10% increase in turnover, currently £63m, by next March.

Lookers, ranked ninth in the AM100 listings on turnover of £961m, will pay £31m for the company once approval is granted by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting next week. The deal will be partly funded by a £17.5m windfall for VAT overpaid between 1973 and 1996 and takes the group beyond £1bn turnover – the eighth UK retailer to pass that landmark.

FPS, which in 2001 was subject to a management buyout backed by venture capitalist ABN Amro, will continue to operate as a standalone company within the group, however. It will retain the management team of senior executives including MD Terry Wainwright.

Wainwright maintains nothing will change. FPS’s plans to increase its distribution depots from 19 to 20, and to expand its product range to support air-con, car care and consumables, will continue with full support from Lookers.

“Lookers were not the only company interested in us,” says Wainwright, “but it became clear that the way they operate very much fits our management style. This deal has secured the long term future of our business with a respected billion pound British plc.”

Lookers chief executive Ken Surgenor says: “We have always said we were keen to develop our aftersales business as well as our franchised business so that we’re not completely dependent on new car sales. The aftersales sector is less prone to fluctuations.”

FPS has 600 staff and supplies motor factors and engine remanufacturers nationwide with products from brands such as Delphi, TRW, Sachs, Ferodo and Gates.

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