The outlet stocks up to 700 used cars and sells about 4,000 a year. Ken Surgenor, Lookers’ chief executive, predicts it will add £35m to Lookers’ annual turnover, taking it past £1.05bn.
Although Lookers already operates used car outlets under the UseDirect brand in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Bristol business will continue to trade under its existing name as a separate division of the group.
“Bristol Trade Centre is a well known and respected brand with more than 250,000 satisfied customers. There is nothing to be gained from changing the name,” insists Surgenor.
“They have a great staff there too, so rather than going out to find a greenfield site to create a used car centre it made sense to acquire this business.”
The supermarket will now have access to thousands of used cars in Lookers’ stock. The purchase, which was finalised after almost two years of talks, may also be a signal of Lookers’ intention to open franchised outlets in the region – Surgenor admits it could provide opportunities to develop his business in the West Country.
“We announced some time ago our intention to strengthen our used car operations. The acquisition of Bristol Trade Centre is the first step in that process,” he says.