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Brundle era ends

The Brundle family, linked with motor retailing in Norfolk for the past 40 years, has sold its Volkswagen dealership and bodyshop in King’s Lynn and left the industry.

The business, whose directors include Martin Brundle, the Formula One commentator, and his brother Robin, has been bought by Martin Bennett.

Until recently, Bennett was a franchise manager with Volkswagen UK, but his career has included periods as service manager and sales manager with Ford, Saab and Mitsubishi dealers. He has taken over the business as a going concern, including all staff.

“This is already a very successful business and we are looking to develop and build on that success,” says Bennett. For the long-term he sees potential in expanding its used car operation.

At its peak, Brundle Group operated franchises for Peugeot, Toyota, Lexus, TVR, Maserati, Honda and Škoda at a two-acre multi-franchise park at Tottenhill. However, in July 2003 it lost the Toyota franchise, which it had held for 30 years, to rival Marshall Motor Group.

Its Peugeot franchise then went to Sterling Motor Group, and the company decided to close the remaining Tottenhill businesses as the site was no longer economically viable.

It retained only its King’s Lynn Volkswagen business, which it had opened in 2000 after the closure of the town’s previous VW outlet, Poplar Garage.

At the time, Brundle predicted huge changes for rural motor retailers, who he said were under pressure from vehicle manufacturers who wanted to relocate their franchises to central locations in large towns and cities.

In a statement, Brundle now says: “It will seem strange for the Brundle family not to be involved in the motor trade but we will now pursue new commercial opportunities.”

Brundle’s exit comes nine months after the closure of Honda dealer Jim Russell Garage in nearby Downham Market, blamed on uneconomic trading conditions.

That business was founded by motor racer Jim Russell in the Fifties, originally as a Mercedes-Benz outlet.

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