The bid is the latest development in an ongoing upheaval as the retail motor industry completely restructures. In recent months Lex Service, Carnell and Caverdale have all divested themselves of volume dealerships or abandoned car retailing altogether, although Lancaster and Appleyard's portfolios look remarkably similar, consisting of a wide spread of volume brands with a reasonable proportion of higher-margin prestige marques.
The offer also includes Appleyard Vehicle Contracts - which Appleyard owns jointly with Barclays Bank - but two Scania truck dealerships are expected to be sold back to the manufacturer for £7.5 million. Appleyard claimed it had called off bid talks last month because none of the potential buyers came up with 'adequate' offers, after announcing in June that it was in the early stages of discussions with a possible buyer. Market speculation at the time suggested Dixons Motors, Reg Vardy and Sanderson Bramall may have been interested.