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Arnold Clark set to acquire Ness Motors

Eddie Hawthorne, Arnold Clark Automobiles chief executive

Independent Inverness car dealer Ness Motors is in negotiation with Arnold Clark Automobiles regarding a takeover bid from the AM10 motor group.

Eddie Hawthorne (pictured), Arnold Clark managing director, confirmed to AM it is in talks with Ness Motors’ chairman Scott Lauder.

Ness Motors staff have been told of the deal, he said, and it is hoped it will completed this Friday. Ness has four locations and nine franchised sites - at Inverness, Elgin and Perth with brands Renault, Dacia, Citroen, SsangYong, and Saab service. It has about 100 employees.

Arnold Clark has seven outlets in Inverness. It acquired another Inverness car dealer, Calterdon BMW and Mini in Harbour Road, now operating under the name Harry Fairbairn, Arnold Clark’s BMW and Mini sales arm.

Ness Motors' turnover in 2013 was £47.5 million. The deal would increase Arnold Clark's turnover to about £2.96 billion. It would remain at number three in the AM100, below Sytner and Pendragon.

Ness Motors was formed in 1960, and in 1971 it acquired the Renault franchise for the North of Scotland. Scott Lauder joined the company in 1972 as the company accountant, and 10 years later, he purchased the company from the retiring owner and chairman Bill Gilbert.

In 1998 the company moved from its original premises in Telford Street to a purpose built facility on Harbour Road, Inverness.

In 1986 the Renault franchise for Moray and Banffshire was gained with a showroom opening in Elgin and in 2003 the group also moved into a purpose built building at Linkwood Place, Elgin. The company expanded southwards in 2006 with the takeover of Inveralmond, the Renault dealership in Perth.

In January 2010 the company continued its expansion by acquiring the Citroen territory for the Highlands & Islands to become the main dealer for this area. The Citroen showroom is also on Harbour Road, Inverness.

A year later Saab became the company’s first prestige marque covering the Highlands & Morayshire, to share a dual site with Citroen in Inverness.

Expansion continued further in July 2012 with adding SsangYong the Korean 4x4 and people carrier manufacturer to portfolio of franchises. SsangYong joined Citroen in the shared showroom on Harbour Road, Inverness.

Ness Motors financial highlights (2013)

Turnover: £47.5 million

PBT: £206,000

Profit margin: 0.43

RoCE: 5.01

Gearing: 154.47%





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