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Lookers takes on first Chevrolet site

Lookers has expanded its Vauxhall network by two to 16 showrooms and added the Chevrolet franchise with the purchase of PLP Motors, a £32m turnover group.

It paid around £3.2m in cash, which equates to net assets.

Ken Surgenor, Lookers chief executive, says: “This was the missing piece of the jigsaw in our north-west England Vauxhall market area. We now operate significant market areas in the north-west, Birmingham and Northern Ireland.

“PLP was profitable but we can make more money from the dealerships by cutting back on office costs and including all of our sites in our Vauxhall newspaper adverts in the region. We didn’t go looking for Chevrolet but now we have it, we are interested in more.

“We want Chevrolet to be separate from our Vauxhall dealerships. It should stand on its own as a brand,” Surgenor adds.

Chris Lloyd, sole owner of PLP, has left motor retailing but his staff are retained. The sites will soon be rebranded Lookers, which now expects to be selling about 20,000 new Vauxhalls per year. A 17th Vauxhall outlet is scheduled for completion in Belfast by the end of September.

The PLP Vauxhall dealerships are in Warrington and Widnes, both near Liverpool and close to the M62. Its Chevrolet outlet, Saab service centre and a bodyshop are in Warrington. Surgenor says the Saab service site is ideally placed to support its Saab operations in Liverpool and Chester. Lookers’ interim results are due on September 5 and Surgenor is pleased with them given “the challenging market conditions”.

Piers Trenear-Thomas, retail motor industry consultant at Grant Thornton, says: “This acquisition makes good sense for Lookers because the addition of PLP will contribute to its economies of scale in the north-west.

“Lookers takes its first Chevrolet dealership at the right time, as the rebranded outlets are already looking more appealing than the old Daewoo sites.”

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