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Group 1 announces acquisition of Spire Automotive

Earl J Hesterberg

Group 1 Automotive has announced the acquisition of Spire Automotive.

Spire has 12 sales and service dealerships in the north and north west of London.

The group includes four Audi dealerships, three BMW/MINI dealerships with a BMW aftersales centre, two Seat dealerships, one Skoda dealership, one Volkswagen commercial vehicle dealership, and one Jaguar dealership. 

The dealerships will continue to operate under the Spire name, are expected to generate approximately £394 million in annualized revenues.

"We are pleased to expand our relationship with BMW and the Volkswagen Group in the UK and to expand our relationship with Jaguar Land Rover from Brazil to the UK.

“We are also delighted to further leverage our scale and strong operating management team in the UK," said Earl J. Hesterberg (pictured), Group 1's president and chief executive officer.

The company's UK operations are expected to generate approximately £1.2 billion in estimated annual revenues with the addition of these stores.

This could be enough to put Group 1 into the top 10 of the AM100 (AMi countdown of dealer groups by turnover). 

This acquisition broadens the company's UK representation to 29 dealerships, which includes existing BMW/Mini, Audi and Ford operations.

Darren Guiver, Spire managing director and Kim Richardson, finance director, have been given positions within Group 1: deputy managing director (supporting Ian Twinley, chairman and regional vice-president UK) and financial controller for the Spire businesses respectively.

Twinley said the deal was as much about the people at Spire and the way it has been managed as the brands and location. 

"Darren and I both believe a business should be managed from the dealerships, not from a head office. We like to tour the network, be in the dealerships when they open and leave when they close," he said.

He also said Group 1 is not a typical public company "with layers of management".

"Darren and I will share responsibilities, splitting oversight of our brands between us and then deciding what is best for them and the people who work in the dealerships. We share the belief in the importance of staff - and their development - in the success of a business."

Spire Automotive was advised on the sale by UHY Hacker Young Automotive partner David Kendrick.

He said: “This acquisition sends out a clear message of intent from Group 1 who continue to grow and expand within the UK marketplace. Spire has been a huge success story since its incorporation as a sponsored dealer back in 2006.

"Darren Guiver, Kim Richardson and the management team have grown the group successfully in a short space of time to being one of the country’s leading premium businesses which Group 1 will no doubt continue to develop moving forward.”

> More acquisitions and deals in the franchised market

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