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Cazoo completes acquisition of car supermarket group Imperial Cars

MIke Bell Neil Smith Imperial Cars

Online car sales start-up Cazoo has completed the acquisition of £201.4 million turnover, 18-site used car supermarket group Imperial Cars.

Completion of the deal comes just weeks after Cazoo became one of the fastest UK businesses ever to achieve a $1 billion (£800.8m) valuation – just six months after its launch – and creates a used car sales operation with a 5,000-car inventory.

Alex Chesterman OBE, the founder and chief executive of Cazoo, said: “The acquisition of Imperial Car Supermarkets will enable Cazoo to better serve its customers and fulfil our increasing number of deliveries throughout the UK.

“This deal provides us with key infrastructure as well as a wealth of automotive expertise which will help accelerate our growth."

Managing director Mike Bell, operations director Neil Smith, commercial director Jon Churcher, and trade disposal director Scott Beazley were the joint owners of Imperial Car Supermarket and will all be taking up key management positions with Cazoo following the acquisition.

Chesterman said: “Imperial has a highly dedicated team and I am delighted to welcome them to Cazoo along with Mike, Jon and Scott.”

In the past month, Cazoo has raised a further £25m of funding and announced major Premier League football club sponsorship deals with Everton and Aston Villa.

It has also appointed Stephen Morana as its chief financial officer, prompting speculation as to whether the business was poised for a public offering.

Imperial Car Supermarkets was established in 2006 and has quickly grown to 18 retail sites across the UK including Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Ipswich, London, Portsmouth and Southampton.

The business has over 2,500 nearly new and used cars for sale and is supported by a number of service, preparation and support centres, including a 10.8-acre Bristol facility opened in October last year.

The deal provides Cazoo with a national network of storage, distribution, aftersales and collection hubs.

Until now, Cazoo has relied on a deal with BCA for all its vehicle stocking, preparation and distribution needs, although AM understands that it had recently acquired a number of vehicles from Imperial.

Imperial achieved turnover growth of 41.4% (to £201.4m) in its annual financial results to March 29, 2019, alongside profit in tax down 48.5% to £1.6m (2018: £3.1).

The Southampton-based business was the subject of an AM profile feature last year when operations director Neil Smith and managing director Mike Bell said that they were aiming to have 20 locations operational by the end of this year. 

Commenting on the car supermarket group’s acquisition, in a statement issued today (July 14), Smith said: “Jon, Scott and Mike are rightly proud of what they’ve achieved over the past 15 years with Imperial Car Supermarkets.

“They’ve built a great team and excellent infrastructure network and it’s now time for another exciting chapter in our journey.

“Alex and his team at Cazoo have a very clear vision and we’re looking forward to Imperial being part of that story and creating the best possible digital car buying experience for consumers across the country.”

Cazoo was launched last year with the aim of embracing the shift to online car buying in the UK.

The business owns and fully reconditions all its cars before offering them for sale and delivering them in as little as 72 hours.

Every car comes with a full seven-day money-back guarantee and comprehensive 90-day warranty and Cazoo has already sold and delivered thousands of cars to customers all across the UK.

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