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HR Owen still trying to shed Volvo sites

HR Owen is still trying to sell its two Volvo sites after stall in negotiations due to "complex property issues".

The dealer group has been trying to get rid of its Volvo sites since it announced its strategy to focus on specialist prestigious vehicle sales in September last year.

J P MacArthur, HR Owen’s chairman, spoke at the group's AGM and told shareholders that sale of its Volvo business is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year.

MacArthur said the Ferrari and Maserati dealership in St Albans that HR Owen acquired from Inchcape in September 2007 was "performing well". The dual franchise’s aftersales facility will be moving to Park Royal from St Albans in June.

Shortly afterwards, HR Owen will be relocating its BMW and Mini aftersales operation to its Acton service facility, which will centralise all of its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce service operations.

MacArthur said: "Our decision to downsize and concentrate on our luxury brands business has worked well and I am pleased to report that overall trading for the Group was strong during the first quarter.

"This has continued to date and we therefore expect the second quarter to deliver a good result as well."

However, HR Owen’s used car sales have faired a tougher time with margins under pressure. Despite this, the group is still expecting to achieve its targets for this year.

MacArthur also welcomed Bentley Motors as one of its newest and largest shareholders after the manufacturer bought a 27.9% stake in the business from Balverona on March 18.

He said: "Our chief executive, Nick Lancaster and I recently met the chairman and other directors of Bentley Motors with whom we had very constructive discussions.

"As a result we are sure that this will bring a period of stability to the group, particularly as there had previously been a great deal of potentially destabilising speculation regarding the company's ownership."

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