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Group 1 Automotive expands JLR and gains VW through major acquisition

Earl J Hesterberg

Group 1 Automotive, ranked 10th in our latest AM100 listing of the UK’s largest dealer groups, is set to climb further up the table with a major acquisition.

AM revealed on Tuesday it was set to announce its takeover of £294 million turnover Beadles Group to US investors. The official statement has now been published.

This, when added to Group 1’s £1.5 billion existing business, will see the UK motor retail business overtake TrustFord into ninth place in the AM100.

The acquisition, which was completed last Friday, AM understands, will give Group 1 its first Volkswagen, Toyota, Kia and Vauxhall operations, and expand its current representation of Jaguar Land Rover and Skoda. It will now have 43 dealerships in the UK.

The deal will also add more than 500 extra staff across Dartford-based Beadles’ 12 locations in the South of England.

Companies House records reveal the appointment of Earl Hesterberg (pictured), US-based Group 1’s president and chief executive, as a director of Beadles Group on July 1 and the termination as directors of Beadles’ former leaders, including joint chairmen Peter Liddle and Paul Boast, managing director Richard Johnson and finance director Tim Humphries.

Beadles Group was in 51st place in the latest AM100.

Our data showed that its 2016 return on sales was 1.2%, in a period when some groups with large Volkswagen portfolios were struggling for good levels of profitability.

"The Beadles Group is a great fit for Group 1, as we further expand our footprint and brand portfolio in the UK. Beadles was established in 1893 and incorporated in 1915 and has an outstanding reputation for customer service and satisfaction. This acquisition bolsters our scale, provides additional management resources, and introduces new brand partnerships in the UK. We are also pleased to grow our existing relationships with key brand partners," said Hesterberg.

"With this addition, our UK operations are estimated to generate over $2 billion in annualized revenues." 

Beadles is a company that began in the late 1800s when John C Beadle opened a workshop in Dartford to manufacture horse drawn carriages, becoming a limited company in 1915 with focus split between retailing cars and manufacturing buses, until 1957 when the company sold its manufacturing business and concentrated on motor retail.

David Kendrick, automotive partner at UHY Hacker Young, which advised Beadles, said: "Beadles is a business that has been established in the south for a long time, delivering a fantastic performance for a number of the brands over the years. This sale allows the shareholders to pursue other interests and for Group 1 to continue their expansion with some new brand partners.” 

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