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South African dealer buys UK sites

The head of a South African Mercedes-Benz dealer group has bought his first cluster of UK dealerships and is on the lookout for more business opportunities.

Roy McAllister, chief executive of Sandown Motors, a 19-dealership group based in Johannesburg, has personally bought three Mercedes dealerships and one Smart dealership from Jacksons Bournemouth Limited. The sites are in Poole, Salisbury and Dorchester.

As a personal venture for McAllister, the Jacksons business will not be linked to Sandown Motors.

McAllister thinks the UK is an attractive business move. “I’ve been in the motor trade most of my working life and wanted diversification and investment in a different currency,” he said.

“My objective is definitely to grow in the UK but I will see how Jacksons settles down first.

“I think the UK is a good choice, because of the size of the market and apparent wealth, which translates to greater opportunities for the top end of the market. And the site locations are affluent areas, so I believe the product will sell well there.

“Key financial indicators in the UK and South Africa are comparable and culturally it’s not that different – the expectations of buyers at the top end of the market are very similar.”

McAllister initially approached Jacksons at the end of last year.

“Jacksons is a very good business and there’s no reason to want to change anything. One of the key reasons I was interested in Jacksons Bournemouth was the competence of the staff.”

McAllister intends to keep the name Jacksons Bournemouth because of its good reputation. Three out of the four original directors remain at the newly formed company – Gareth Copling, Graham Small and David Weston. A fourth director, Mark Dommisse, is based in Johannesburg.

From January, the UK operation will be headed up by LeRoy Muntingh, who was formerly chief executive of Mercedes for Sandown Motors in the Western Cape of South Africa.

Jacksons CI in Jersey and Guernsey, formerly the parent group of Jacksons Bournemouth, continues to represent Mercedes, Bentley, Audi, BMW, Aston Martin, VW and Porsche in the Channel Islands.

According to Companies House, Jacksons Bournemouth turnover in 2006 was £65.9 million, which made a net profit of £813,982. Both were improvements on 2005’s performance. The company finished in the top 25% of Daimler Chrysler UK 2006 sales and service customer satisfaction.

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