Lookers is days away from formally completing the acquisition of £216.6m turnover Jennings Group, AM understands.
The Manchester-based retail group could move into second place in the AM100 – ahead of Pendragon, which started 2017 as number one – with the move for the Teeside-based Ford, Kia, Harley Davidson, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Seat retail operation.
AM’s sources said that members of staff at Jennings were informed of the change of ownership at a meeting on Friday (August 31).
It is understood that Lookers will take ownership of the full Jennings operation, with the exception of its Kia franchise – and neighbouring Subway fast food restaurant – on Parsons Rd, Washington, and its Harley Davidson franchises in Manchester and Newcastle.
Representatives from both Lookers and Jennings declined to comment when contacted by AM this morning (September 3).
In its full-year results for 2017 revealed a £3.6% rise in turnover to £216.6m and a 9% increase in operating profit to £1.6m.
But, despite the positive showing, managing director Nas Khan said in his statement within the results for the year to December 31, 2017, that “there was a feeling the market was beginning to tighten” with new car sales down 6% on the previous year.
Khan revealed that the group had cancelled plans for a new £6m flagship FordStore dealership in Stockton due to the effects of Brexit and uncertainty over the future of diesel vehicles.
Speaking after the unveiling of plans for a more modest, £1 million upgrade of the existing dealership, Khan said that market conditions had prompted him to reappraise the expansion plans.
“We have decided not to go ahead with the Stockton development as a FordStore,” said Khan.
“As in my report last year, due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit, diesel cars, the slow-down of the new market etc, we did not feel that spending close to £6m was the right thing to do.
“The plan now is to refurbish Stockton at a cost of £1m in order to meet all standards for retail look and style.
“This work should commence during October/November 2018. There are no other developments planned for 2018.”