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Barretts offloads Citroën dealership

Barretts of Canterbury has disposed of a loss-making Citroën dealership to Kent rival Wilmoths in an arrangement conducted via the manufacturer.

The group is keeping its Citroën outlet in Canterbury, while Wilmoths adds a fourth, with Folkestone joining Ashford, Battle and Eastbourne.

Paul Barrett, managing director of a family business founded more than 100 years ago, says they served two years notice on Citroën as it could not make Folkestone financially viable.

“We have gained because we no longer wanted the business, which was costing us a significant amount each year, and we receive rent from the new owner.

“Wilmoths, which did want it, owns the outlet and 11 jobs have been saved.”

Barrett dismisses industry speculation about widespread restructuring within his group, which has a turnover of more than £100m.

“We are, though, looking for ways to become more efficient and to save money, but so are most other businesses,” he says. “This is the only change we are making at the moment and it was necessary because the site was costing us a lot.”

Barretts acquired the Folkestone site in 1992 when it gained a Rover franchise. Citroën was added three years ago, and after Rover collapsed, the group carried on as an approved repairer.

Barrett says: “Our BMW and Land Rover outlets are doing well and we own all our property. After a challenging year, we are mildly optimistic about our prospects in 2007.”

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