Leith was previously main board director at Dutton Forshaw with responsibility for the group’s seven Dovercourt Ford outlets and the four Mercedes-Benz outlets in Kent.
He already lives in Suffolk, so is ideally placed to take control of the John Grose business. John Grose chairman Ian Twinley, also regional vice- president, Europe, at Group 1 Automotive, described Leith’s appointment as “a terrific find for us”.
He added: “We started talking about Mike’s retirement in interviews with local business magazines last summer to get the message out.
“Alister got in touch with us when Lookers acquired Dutton Forshaw.”
Twinley concedes that, had Lookers not acquired Dutton Forshaw, Leith would not have left the business. “The best people tend not to want to leave their current job.”
He adds: “Alister is very IT literate and has a wealth of experience. We want to do more in CRM, so Alister will help here.”
John Grose, which has 20 franchises, including Ford, Chrysler, Peugeot, Citroen, Kia and Subaru, trading from nine sites in East Anglia, is looking for growth in the region.
“We bought a Peugeot dealership and two ex-Rover sites in 2006,” said Twinley.
“We have been through consolidation in 2007 and we are now bidding on a couple of businesses.”
The group’s management reports show that turnover for 2007 rose 25% to £124m. It will publish audited accounts in April. They are expected to show a big rise in profits.