The group, European’s largest motor retail business, currently has more than 50 trading names. This is largely due to buying Lex Retail’s 34 dealerships in 2000 when it rebranded outlets with “made up” names, according to chief executive Trevor Finn.
“We are now looking to tidy up these and reduce the number of trading names to half a dozen,” he says.
Most of the premium franchises will be rebranded Stratstone, with a few exceptions, while the mainstream marques will fall under Evans Halshaw or CD Bramall. Pendragon also operates the manufacturer-branded Mercedes-Benz business in the Lancashire area.
The move could be seen as a U-turn: Pendragon has historically retained the name of the dealership it has acquired, believing that strong local branding is more important than a national profile. Operating a wide number of trading names has also helped protect the group against negative campaigning by dissatisfied customers – it hasn’t faced website criticism that has affected Reg Vardy and Arnold Clark, for instance.
“Much of the work will take place when we need to refurbish or relocate a dealership,” says Finn. “It will remove complexity and has benefits on print and CI .”