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Group 1 Automotive completes nine-site Robinsons Motor Group acquisition

Group 1 Automotive's newly-acquired Norwich Audi car dealership

Group 1 Automotive has added nine car dealerships to its UK operation with the acquisition of Robinsons Motor Group.

The US-based AM100 car retail group adds to its existing Volkswagen Group franchises with the addition of Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen businesses – largely located in East Anglia – and a Citroen dealership in Peterborough through the transaction.

This move brings Group 1's total UK operation to a total of 55 locations with 75 franchises representing 14 total brands.

Commenting on the acquisition, which was completed on July 5, Group 1 president and chief executive Earl Hesterberg said: "We are pleased to further expand our strong relationship with the Volkswagen Group in the UK.

Earl J Hesterberg, Group 1 Automotive

“Our previous experience in these market areas has been very positive and we are confident that these businesses will contribute further growth to our UK operation."

Norwich-based Robinsons’ dealerships are located in its home city, along with businesses in Peterborough, Lowestoft and Ipswich. 

Robinsons previously sold five Mercedes dealerships to Group 1 in 2018.

The group’s latest published accounts, for the period to December 31, 2019, show a turnover of £235 million and pre-tax profits of £2.1m.

Globally, Group 1 owns and operates 188 automotive dealerships, 242 franchises, and 48 collision centres in the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Its latest UK expansion came as part of Inchcape’s August 2019 disposal of five Volkswagen and Audi dealerships.

At the time, Group 1 added Volkswagen car and van franchises in Chelmsford, Colchester, Romford and Southend.

Back in April Group 1 reported a “solidly profitable” Q1 for its UK car dealerships, despite the impact of COVID-19 ‘Lockdown 3’ showroom closures.

Its consolidated total revenues rose 11.9% year-on-year in the period to March 31, to $3.0 billion (£2.16bn) in its overall performance as total gross profit increased 17.8%, to $490.7m (£352.6m).

Group 1 credited growth of its US used car division, and a 20% increase in sales volumes during the period for much of its success.

Its UK operations also gained praise from president and chief executive, Earl J. Hesterberg, however, after like-for-like total gross profit decreased by just 4.1%, to $65.3m (£46.9m), despite the impact of lockdown.

UK revenues decreased 13.4%, to $547.2m (£393.2m).

Hesterberg said: “I’m extremely proud of our UK team for their performance during the five months from November 5th through early April when our showrooms were closed.

“This resulted in the closure of our physical vehicle sales departments.

“Nevertheless, our UK operation remained solidly profitable for the first quarter, as well as the entire five-month closure period.”

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