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Directors leave as Whitehouse shrinks

Kent-based Whitehouse Group has dropped out of the AM100 after selling or closing 10 sites since the summer.

In addition to the four BMW/Mini dealership acquisitions by Stephen James in August (AM August 11) and the Audi purchase by Hodgson Automotive early this year, Whitehouse has recently sold its Nissan dealership in Dartford to Motorline.

Whitehouse closed its Renault sites in Sidcup and Tonbridge in the summer. No new franchisees have been appointed. Turnover has fallen from £275m in June to below £98m AM100 entry level.

Whitehouse is in talks to sell its remaining four Renault businesses (full dealerships in Dartford, Tunbridge Wells and Orpington and an approved service centre in Maidstone), which will leave the group with three ChryslerJeep outlets (Bexley Heath, Maidstone and Tonbridge) and a VW Van dealership in Tonbridge.

The controlling Whitehouse family took the decision to sell the bulk of what was in 2004 a £370m turnover, 34-site business following the death last year of chairman and majority shareholder Brian Whitehouse, son of founder Bill.

Pat Conway, chief executive, and Mike Smith, finance director, have both left the company.

Deputy chairman Peter Reynolds remains in overall charge and is responsible for overseeing the disposals as part of a three-man management team with Craig Bensted and Lee Fulford.

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