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MGR future in balance at Priory

Priory Motor Group has closed one MG Rover outlet and is considering the future of its two others as part of a franchise review.

Last Friday, the £227m turnover business closed the dealership in Newcastle, which it has sold to Reg Vardy for an undisclosed sum. Vardy has retained the staff, and will reopen the site as a Jaguar outlet in April.

Priory had operated the outlet for four years. Now the outlook for its remaining MG Rover dealerships in Mansfield and Nottingham seems uncertain.

Steve Warren, Priory’s public relations controller, told AM: “At this stage, in common with most Rover dealerships around the country, we are concerned about the sales results that are coming through. We will continue to monitor the situation on a continuous basis. There’s nothing else that we can say right now.”

The Newcastle closure is the latest of a spate of network upheaval for the British carmaker’s dealer network. Wrights Motor Group in Lincolnshire announced in December plans to close its MG Rover dealerships in Boston and Sleaford and sell its third outlet in Lincoln. The Grantham-based Crystal Motors Group, which is opening a Nissan and Renault outlet in Boston in March, has bought the assets of Wright’s Boston outlet and is hoping to provide aftersales to the town’s MG Rover owners.

An MG Rover spokesman played down its network changes, adding: “Over 2004 as a whole we lost five dealers, which is within natural movement for any manufacturer’s dealer network”

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