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Group 1 sets sights on 50 UK outlets

American retail business Group 1, which entered the UK last year with the purchase of Chandlers BMW/Mini, considers 50 dealerships to be “a nice size business”.

The company, headed by former Ford of Europe sales and marketing director Earl Hesterberg, is talking to manufacturers in preparation for future acquisitions.

“We have no pre-determined thought on size in the UK but we need to leverage purchasing, best practice and spread management talent,” Hesterberg said.

When pressed, he added: “Fifty dealerships is a nice size business.”

Although Chandlers’ three BMW/Mini dealer-ships are based on the south coast, Hesterberg said growth could come from anywhere in the UK.

However, he said he would “probably not” go head to head with Arnold Clark in Scotland. “It’s important to buy businesses that will grow. Premium brands have very good growth potential and better margin potential,” he said.

“We are flexible on geography but the more you can concentrate, the easier it is to control and manage.We would ideally like a scale acquisition, but we aren’t hung up on it.

“You build a business one block at a time – if it’s two sites, it’s two sites; if it’s five, it’s five. “We have looked at numerous purchase opportunities recently, we just haven’t found the right one yet. You have to be opportunistic.

“We’ve gone a year without any viable dealers and then we might find three in one week.”

  • A Group 1 profile piece in the January 25 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.


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