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Richard Alexander Group purchased after a second VW group collapses

Richard Alexander Group, purchased from receivers by Sytner Group, was the second regional dealer business with Volkswagen Group franchises to be rescued within a few weeks. 

By acquiring the £140 million turnover business, Sytner gains its first VW and Seat franchises. 

The price has not been disclosed, but it was for the assets of the business, and did not include goodwill.

The Sytner purchase follows the sale of David Jones Garages’ three VW outlets in Wales to Sinclair Group three weeks ago. 

The fall of Richard Alexander, which had been loss-making since 2005, prompted speculation about specific problems for VW franchise holders. 

Spencer Clayton-Jones, VW national franchise manager, said Volkswagen was working closely with its retail partners. 

Trading terms and production volumes for 2009 had been revised and key actions taken during the year to support the network. 

“The Volkswagen brand has maintained its desirability to investors,” he said. “Where operators have chosen to exit the network this year various parties – from both within and outside the network – have expressed a keen interest. ”

Martin Sewell, group operations manager at Richard Alexander who is also Volkswagen dealer council chairman, said: “The collapse of the two groups was entirely coincidental and the reasons completely different. There has been no move by VW to force sales.

“In fact, Volkswagen Group executive have been highly supportive. Morale in the VW franchised network is high.”

Sewell worked as a manager at Volkswagen Group before going into retail 10 years ago. In addition to his operations role at Richard Alexander, he was its brand manager (dealer principal) at Volkswagen Leeds, a prized acquisition for Sytner.

He and the group’s other employees, including managing director Richard Smith, have been transferred to Sytner, which is now assessing its workforce needs. Smith founded the company in Huddersfield in 1996, and it grew to six sites in west and north Yorkshire.

Sytner’s quick acquisition saved 300 jobs.

Richard Alexander held VW franchises at Leeds, Huddersfield and Harrogate, all bought by Sytner, and another at Otley which has been closed with the loss of 40 jobs. Sytner also bought Audi and Seat outlets in Huddersfield – it represents Audi in Harrogate, Bradford and Wakefield.

Richard Alexander’s accounts reveal a profit of £689,501 in 2004. But in 2005 the group lost £364,359 on a turnover of just over £85 million, and it made a loss of £232,771 on sales of a little over £127 million in 2006. The group’s return for 2007 was overdue.

Laurence Vaughan, Sytner Group chairman, said his team had been keeping in touch with Volkswagen Group about the acquisition of VW franchises.

“We wanted the Leeds franchise when it was awarded to Richard Alexander,” said Vaughan.

“We were able to respond to this opportunity, and to offer financial security to VW because of our resources.”

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