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Research: Pendragon against its European competition

With a turnover exceeding £5 billion, Pendragon is by far the largest car retail business in the UK. But the group also has five dealerships operating 10 franchises in Germany and with experts predicting consolidation in mainland Europe on a par with the industry fusion UK retailers have been experiencing for the past few years, how does Pendragon fare when pitted against its European counterparts?

Is it still the biggest?

Research carried out by Autobiz is now on sale in the UK through AM sister organisation Sewells Information & Research. It reveals that, on a measure of new car sales, Pendragon is not the largest car retail/distribution business in Europe. That accolade goes to Austrian-based Porsche Holding, which sold 344,325 new vehicles last year for a turnover of euros 8.9bn. Pendragon is second with 190,524 units sold, the majority in the UK, helping it towards a turnover of £5.26bn.

Eight UK retail groups are represented in the top 50 but, perhaps surprisingly, it’s Germany that provides the largest number of groups with 10, although none are big enough to trouble the top 10.

Inchcape, which has retail operations in Germany, Belgium, Greece and France, is the fifth largest European group by new vehicle sales on 123,900 units; Camden is eighth on 82,106; Arnold Clark is one place behind on 67,560; Dixon is No 11 on 52,000, closely followed by Lookers at No12 on 43,002.

United Auto Group, which owns Sytner in the UK, but also has dealerships in Germany, is No 21 on 20,945 and Summit, owned by Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, is No36 on 11,645 units.

Both UAG and Sumitomo have clear expansion plans in Europe with their chosen franchise partners and both are using the UK as the starting point.

The research does not include manufacturer-owned groups, so there’s no place for Ford Retail which has close on 100 outlets across Europe, or Renault’s Reagroup. It also only takes into consideration groups with direct presence in at least two European countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are counted separately, not as one entity under the UK).

The Autobiz report also suggests that the next big focus for expansion will be in eastern Europe. It says that even medium-sized groups are considering investing in countries like Romania, Poland or the Czech Republic, following the lead of carmakers who are building car plants in these countries and others, like Slovakia, in the pursuit of lower cost bases and cheaper labour – not to mention investment friendly governments.

For more information about the top 50 car distribution groups in Europe or to buy a copy of the report, call Sewells on 01733 468254.

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