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Sutton drops franchised sales

Clive Sutton, once the UK’s most successful ChryslerJeep dealers, this week finally abandoned conventional franchised car selling to provide exclusive brands to wealthy clients in London and mainland Europe.

He becomes chairman of Clive Sutton Premier Marques, the venture he launched last July, but retains a stake in Capital Chrysler Jeep, the new name for his former dealerships at Colindale and Balham in north and south London.

Sutton has invested about £225,000 in his former Chrysler Jeep outlet close to Lord’s cricket ground in St John’s Wood, north-west London. He held the ChryslerJeep franchise there since the manufacturer returned to the UK in 1992, and has also run Jaguar, Cadillac/Chevrolet and MG Rover dealerships in London.

Tim Waite, responsible for day-to-day running of Sutton’s business, becomes managing director of Capital Chrysler Jeep.

“I do not see any future for franchised dealer groups operating from small city premises like mine at St John’s Wood, and I want to stop pushing product,” Sutton says.

“We used to have a £3,000 margin on a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but there is no longer the money in brands like ChryslerJeep to enable me to provide the level of service I want to in London because overheads are so high.

“Also, there is a trend among manufacturers to run retail outlets themselves or to have their names on them, although ChryslerJeep has not said it wants to do that.

I will capitalise on my own brand name and contacts among a huge number of well-heeled clients who buy exclusive cars the way ladies select designer handbags and shoes.

“These cars are basically toys. I also want to take advantage of block exemption changes and sell different brands.”

Sutton says Premier Marques has sold 25 Bentley Continental GTs since last summer, and most were delivery-mileage cars, bought from people selling at a profit.

Sutton buys and sells specialist cars such as Ford GTs and Mustangs, Hummers, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Porsches and Mercedes. He also acts as a broker, finding specific cars for clients, and is starting a leasing division.

Celebrity soccer stars are among Sutton’s clients and he will shortly start importing left-hand drive Chrysler C300 luxury saloons.

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