Robert Forrester’s AIM-listed company, already the UK’s 10th largest dealer group with a £636m turnover, has added £58m to that total by acquiring five Honda dealerships and a Ford outlet. That puts Vertu well ahead of 11th-placed Listers, turnover £576m, and within £150m reach of £841m-turnover Ford Retail in ninth place.
Nevertheless, an industry source believes Vertu will focus on integrating its 46 dealerships and driving improvements, rather than planning another takeover to push its turnover near to the £1bn mark.
Forrester told AM that Vertu’s growth was not motivated by AM100 positioning, and it had achieved suitable scale and would seek to make improvements.
The £4.6m acquisition of Grantham Motor Company, with its four Honda car and one Honda motorcycle dealerships in Grantham, Lincoln, Boston and Retford, has launched Vertu’s relationship with Honda. Forrester said Vertu did not want to diversify with too many brands, but Honda was an important addition.
Grantham shareholder and sales director Chris Taylor has been retained and appointed managing director of the division. All five Honda outlets will continue to trade under their original name.
Forrester told AM: “The Grantham businesses are high performing and have built up a fantastic reputation. There’s a lot of brand value in themselves, so there’s merit in keeping the name. Trevor Jones’ Dealermatch brokered the deal and acted for Grantham managing director David Beswick.
In a separate deal last week, Vertu paid £2.6m to Jennings Group for its Ford dealership in Morpeth. The site will be rebranded Bristol Street Motors and Forrester expects its performance to improve in the medium term.
Last month, Vertu opened a £5m new-build Bristol Street Ford dealership in Stoke-on-Trent.