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Tustain will not buy 'for sake of ego'

Tustain Motors’ growth will not be clouded by “ego or numbers”, insists its chairman.

John Tustain marked his return to motor retail last month by making public his ambition to head a regional group of 10 to 15 dealerships under the new brand of Tustain Motors.

However, that’s a long-term goal for the former joint chief executive of Bristol Street Motors.

“We’re not in the numbers game, and won’t be buying for the sake of ego.

"The benefit of starting from a clean sheet of paper, and not being a public company, means we can grow at our own speed and take our opportunities selectively,” he told AM.

Tustain had been out of the motor retail arena since Bristol Street’s sale to Vertu Motors in 2007, although he remained active in the business car sector with his UK Fleet Manager venture in Bromsgrove.

Last month he bought two Vauxhall dealerships in Ashington and Alnwick, Northumberland, from their retiring owners.

Day-to-day control is the responsibility of Tustain Motors’ managing director Brian Baxter and financial director David Storey, while Tustain plans for his own role to be hands on with financial controls, strategy and acquisitions.

Ford and Vauxhall dealerships are Tustain’s main targets, although he describes Nissan as another strong brand that interests him.

The first two appeal due to their market shares and strength of brand, while Tustain sees Nissan’s investment in the north-east as a sign of potential.

The acquisition strategy is to build clusters of outlets around the A1 corridor in the north-east and down as far as Nottingham.

“There aren’t many good open points available at this time,” said Tustain.

“However, there are people coming up to retirement at family businesses who want to get out, but won’t sell to big groups because they want a buyer with a reputation that is allied to them. These are the opportunities for us.”

The focus of the business will be on “customer care before profit”. 

Tustain explained: “If we can get that right the profit will follow.”

Staff at the two dealerships are said to be enthusiastic and Tustain has boosted numbers by five recruits.

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