Award-winning Groupe Renault retailer Mitchells is courting new car franchises after acquiring Vauxhall specialist Kerridges, at Halesworth.
Renault and Dacia retailer Mitchell has expanded into a fourth site with the acquisition and is initially aiming to expand its used car offering at the location on London Road, Halesworth.
Matthew Huke-Jenner, managing director and owner of the Lowestoft-based Mitchells, believes that it also holds great potential as a franchised site.
“We will be continuing the Vauxhall heritage but expanding the used car forecourt by stocking more vehicles,” he said.
“We are also talking to several manufacturers about reintroducing a new car franchise. It is a fantastic site, on a main road, and warrants being a franchised dealership.”
Huke-Jenner said that he hoped to be able to reveal the identity of the Kerridges site’s new franchise early in the new year.
He said: “One of the key points for us was that we retain the four members of staff who have a lot of knowledge and experience. We are looking forward to caring for Kerridges’s loyal customers.
“Kerridges is a long-standing family firm which shares similar values to Mitchells.
“We have customers who have been dealing with us for more than 30 years. We make relationships with customers and they keep coming back and also tell family and friends about us. Our business is built on staff and customer retention.
“We see ourselves very much as custodians of this business.
“It is important for us to retain its identity and, although we will be rebranding the site in the new year, we will not be changing the way Kerridges does things because that is the way Mitchells does things.”
Kerridges’ roots go back to 1918 when Chris and Mark Kerridge’s grandfather, Albert, opened a garage at Darsham, near Saxmundham.
Their father, Ron, joined the business and, in 1963, opened his own garage at the Halesworth site which became a Vauxhall dealership.
The operation served as a Vauxhall main dealer until 2014, then a Vauxhall service centre and, two years ago, became a Vauxhall specialist.
Now the Kerridge brothers have decided to retire and felt Mitchells was a good fit with the family business.
Chris Kerridge said it had been a tough year, adding that he was pleased the business had been bought by another independent dealership which was looking to reintroduce a franchise.
“Mitchells will bring new life to the business,” he said.
“It’s a sad day for us but I know Matthew will do a very good job keeping our loyal customers happy.”
Mitchells, based in Long Road, Lowestoft, was established before the Second World War and has sold Renaults since 1974.
The Renault and Dacia franchise opened a second site in Suffolk Road, Great Yarmouth, 15 years ago and a used car operation in Mill Road, Lowestoft, two years ago.
Huke-Jenner said that the new Halesworth site would add a body shop to the group’s existing portfolio.
He added: “It is far enough from our other sites not to be in a competitive position. We have a lot of customers in this part of the world but there is room for growth.”