The move – described by the company as a “unique and exciting business collaboration” – is intended to give the business financial and operational muscle to compete against the national groups.
Silver Street Motor Holdings operates the Taunton and Barnstaple Audi Centres, and Hanjo Russell Holdings runs Plymouth Audi and Newton Abbot Audi. The two companies say they have been in talks about the merger for the past three years.
Andy Russell, former Hanjo Russell managing director who takes up the same role at the new Audi South West, says: “The south west has historically been a challenging market for large plcs. We believe that the most effective way forward is to leave the south west to regional businesses. With our local market understanding, and constant nurturing, we can deliver the world class customer service experience you would expect from a prestige brand, while maintaining a personal, local touch.”
The new business has already made its first acquisition – Exeter Audi. The showroom will be moved to a new site on Matford Business Park at a cost of around £3.75m. The centre is due to be completed mid 2007.
Taunton Audi and Plymouth Audi will also undergo substantial redevelopment this year.
A spokesman for Audi network development tells AM: “Audi UK is delighted to support the merger between Plymouth Newton Abbott and Taunton Audi Centres. We are confident the strengthened businesses will continue to deliver the strategic objectives of Audi UK and its partners.”
The new retail group is formed as Audi announces changes to its fleet department as it prepares for growth that is expected to take annual UK car registrations above 100,000 by the end of the decade.
Iain Carmichael, previously head of operations at Seat UK, has moved within Volkswagen Group UK headquarters at Milton Keyes to take a new role as head of Audi’s fleet sales.
The new Audi fleet department replaces the business sales operation, which was led by Adrian Short, who has left the group after eight years. It is believed Short’s new role would have been less influential than the one previously held if he had stayed.
Audi sees fleet as a vital part of its business strategy to increase sales in the UK.