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Balmer drives forward

Balmer Lane Garages has completed phase two of its expansion programme on the South Coast.

The group has strengthened its Honda portfolio to three sites with the multi-million pound acquisition of Salisbury Honda from August Motors.

Now the £15m turnover group is looking for further opportunities. “We don’t have any targets at this stage,” says chairman Louise Powner. “But if anything in the Dorset, Hampshire or Surrey areas became available we would definitely be interested. Our bank is very supportive of our ambitions.”

Phase one of its expansion was the opening of a Honda outlet in Dibden Purlieu near Southampton in September last year, complete with £50,000 worth of 2006 Honda corporate identity.

Powner expects the new additions to increase group turnover to £25m this year, from total sales of 800 new and 950 used vehicles.

Balmer Lane Garages underwent a re-structuring early last year, when Powner took control when her father, Ray Farr, then chairman and owner, retired. Marcus Chant was appointed managing director.

The company was established 34 years ago in Brockenhurst, midway between Southampton and Bournemouth. In addition to the Honda dealerships, Balmer Lane Garages has a Mitsubishi outlet, a Toyota service and repair centre and a standalone 10,000sq m service centre.

A hotel which was part of the group was sold off to finance part of the Salisbury Honda deal. NatWest Commercial Banking in Bournemouth provided the remaining funds required.

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