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Vertu sets sights on volume brands

The Blakes Holdings business in Derbyshire consisted of two franchises ­– Vauxhall and Peugeot – that Vertu Motors is keen to expand with, according to CEO Robert Forrester.

“They are two franchises we like,” he told AM.

Vertu’s business strategy is to grow with carmakers in the volume market, who Forrester believes offer value-for-money products that are popular with customers.

But he doesn’t rule out adding some premium brands if the opportunity is right.

“We want to broaden our business with other franchises,” he says.

In the year to December 31, 2006, Blakes turned over £59.7m with operating profit of £400,000 and pre-tax profits of £40,000. Forrester is confident of raising profit performance, but says the turnover contribution from Blakes will be lower than stated as the company has stopped some of its high-volume national fleet business.

He quotes analysts’ predictions that Vertu turnover will hit £642m in the year to February 2009 on existing business – now 39 sites. However, Vertu is expected to make further purchases before then that will put the group into the AM100 top 10. Forrester will not comment on his plans, although acquisitions are likely to border the group’s existing territory across the Midlands.

Forrester also evades the question of whether he is planning to build a group to sell.

“We want to build a sustainable management team that does the job properly and can build a large sustainable business,” he says.

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