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Break-up of Sterling group

The East of England Co-op is planning to exit the motor retail industry.

Its Chevrolet, Citroën and Peugeot franchises at Ipswich, which traded under the Sterling brand, were bought earlier this year by John Grose Motor Group.

John Grose, whose headquarters are in Lowestoft, has its sights set on becoming a £120m business by the end of 2006.

Now East of England Co-op is talking with a number of dealers interested in its Chevrolet, Peugeot and Fleming Citroën dealerships in King’s Lynn. It also has a Peugeot outlet in Norwich for sale.

“The board at the East of England Co-op has decided to discontinue with its motor group business, trading under the Sterling Motor Group brand, and in the long-term there is no future for us in this industry,” says a spokesman.

John Grose has since continued to expand.

Last month it bought Rover and Subaru outlets in Ipswich from Edmondsons Group.

“These, together with the Sterling Motor Group sites, are in a manageable geographic area for us and fit in with our existing territory and other franchises,” says Ian Twinley, John Grose chairman.

At the start of the year, John Grose operated only five Ford franchises across East Anglia. It has since added Kia in Lowestoft, and ChryslerJeep and Dodge in Ipswich, as well as its acquisitions.

Twinley says that one reason behind the expansion is to gain a more effective hold on parts distribution in the region and to provide better career paths for staff in the long-term.

“Our turnover last year was £80m and we hope that through our acquisitions this will increase to £120m by the end of 2006,” says Twinley.

“Looking to the future, we’ll continue to seek out franchises that fit our optimization model.”

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