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Westover takes on four Olympian sites

Westover Group, the Bournemouth-based multi-franchised group, moved quickly to buy four sites from Grant Thornton, joint administrative receivers, after Olympian Motor Group collapsed.

Both groups operate in Dorset and Hampshire, and the acquisitions – signed within a week of the receivers being called in – boost Westover’s turnover by around £54m to almost £165m, sweeping the company into the AM100 at around No55.

Westover acquired Olympian sites at New Milton and Poole (Renault and Fiat), Salisbury (Renault and Nissan) and Blandford (Renault). Olympian’s bodyshop in Bournemouth was excluded from the sale.

The acquired dealerships will be rebranded Westover and added to the group’s mix of Toyota, Nissan, Land Rover, Lexus, Jaguar and Škoda sites in Bournemouth, Poole, Salisbury, Christchurch and Curfe Mullen.

Peter Wood, chairman of Westover, says: “We were already negotiating to buy one of Olympian’s dealerships and then took the opportunity to purchase more from the receiver.” The precise purchase price has not yet been calculated and will remain confidential, he says.

Dealers in the region believe Olympian, founded in 1989, had been under-capitalized for some time. Its last filed accounts, to June 30, 2004, showed a profit of £119,895.

Martin Hill, the Olympian managing director, was not available, but according to local press reports, the group made 50 people redundant last August. One newspaper said Hill tried to play down the financial problems but was then forced to call in receivers.

Olympian, based at Poole, was a casualty of the slide in car sales and margins last year, according to Nigel Ruddock, a partner at Grant Thornton. “Its problems were due to the difficult trading conditions in the sector, which worsened noticeably throughout 2005,” he says.

“A fast sale is always preferable to preserve employment and customer confidence. The addition of these dealerships is a logical move for Westover, which has an enviable reputation for quality and service in all areas of customer care and as an employer.”

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