Fleet News

Group to place more emphasis on prestige marques

HR OWEN - the dealer group with a reputation for specialising in luxury - is to focus further on prestige marques after doubling its interim profits without significantly increasing turnover. The group reported pre-tax profits of £2.15 million in the half-year to June 30 (1996: £1.07 million) on turnover up just 10% at £188 million (1996: £170 million) and announced the disposal of Peugeot and Nissan sites in Epsom and St Albans.

These outlets will be replaced by a new Jaguar dealership in Ipswich and a Mercedes-Benz franchise in Orpington, while a joint Range Rover and Mercedes site in north London will be split into two separate solus dealerships. Only six of HR Owen's 25 dealerships could now be described as volume, but investment and expansion is planned for at least one of these.

The move mirrors Lex's strategy of divesting itself of volume franchises to concentrate on prestige vehicles in a bid to improve margins although HR Owen says it is prepared to persist with volume manufacturers with whom it can form a profitable relationship.

Finance director David Jaggar said: 'We are not bailing out of volume franchises, but aligning ourselves with just a few volume manufacturers where we think we can move forward in harmony in a profitable business in which we can invest for the future and give customers a proper service.'

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