Richard Palmer and Ann Wilson, respectively chief executive and finance director of EMH until it was taken over by Inchcape in February, have founded Henley Motor Holdings. The company, in which they each have half the shares, is based in Henley On Thames at the former EMH head office.
Last week they completed their first deal, buying two Michael Powles Bentley dealerships in Leicester and Norwich from Inchcape, plus its Perodua and Piaggio importership. Inchcape sold its other Bentley outlet in Newcastle to JCT600 in May.
Palmer declined to comment on the deal, or whether he would consider buying any other Inchcape dealerships offered for sale. Inchcape recently announced plans to dispose of 47 outlets in the UK to re-focus on fewer key brands.
Nevertheless, Palmer hopes to build a mid-sized dealer group through key partnerships with a small number of brands. He is particularly keen on re-establishing relationships with Volkwagen, Audi, BMW and the Ford Premier Automotive Group brands.
Under Palmer’s leadership, EMH built up a considerable portfolio of profitable Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo dealerships, and won awards from BMW and Audi.
“We’re proud of what we achieved and would love to represent them again,” Palmer told AM. “We’ve always believed in running high quality, profitable business. If we grew to 10 or 12 high-quality dealerships in the medium term I would be delighted.”
Richard Gordon, regional director, UK operations at Bentley Motors, told AM he was pleased to have Palmer and Wilson back with the franchise, which EMH first took on in March 2004.
“They have a very good understanding of the brand and did a very good job for us with EMH,” Gordon added. “We’re delighted that we will have continuity on the two sites as all staff have transferred. Leicester is a very important market for us, one of our top four market areas and one of our leading used car retailers.”
The Michael Powles branding will be replaced by Bentley Norwich and Bentley Leicester, in line with the carmaker’s strategy of having geographically-branded dealerships.