AM Online

HR Owen’s restructure

The latest step in HR Owen’s restructuring has seen the AM100 dealer group sell or close five Audi businesses in the last two weeks.

Darren Guiver, previously divisional director responsible for its Audi, Lexus and ChryslerJeep franchises, has led a management buy-out of three outlets. The £4.7m deal launches his group, Spire Automotive, with dealerships in Hatfield, Whetstone and Finchley Road in London.

A fourth Audi dealership in Amersham has been sold to the Wayside Group, which already represents the prestige brand in Milton Keynes and wanted to expand its market coverage. The fifth outlet, a specialist corporate site in Colindale, London, has been closed. The property will be sold later this year.

HR Owen chief executive Nick Lancaster says it is “frustrating” that the restructuring has already taken more than 12 months. There are more disposals to come, likely to include its remaining Land Rover and Volvo sites in London. Lancaster won’t confirm this, but says he may have further announcements within the next few weeks.

This will be followed by a period of consolidation for the remaining specialist and luxury franchises, and some of the cash raised will be returned to shareholders. Then Lancaster will finally reveal his long-awaited new retail model, which he first hinted at in AM in July 2005.

“We’re changing our business model completely so that our business has far less franchises in it. We plan in future to acquire a number of other businesses, which are motor trade related but not franchised car sales,” he adds.

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