Fleet News

Car Supermarket group buys competitor for £20.3m

THE Car Group, which specialises in used vehicle sales through its Car Supermarket outlets, has bought south Wales-based independent competitor Empress Cars for £20.3m. The acquisition looks set to double Car Group's annual sales to more than 60,000 vehicles and provides the company with its fourth Car Supermarket site.

Empress Cars has three large sites in Newport, covering Wales and the south west of England. It already offers supermarket-style car retailing in an area earmarked for growth by Car Group. Its principal 14-acre site will accelerate Car Supermarket's roll-out programme providing a fourth 'supersite' to run alongside two existing Car Supermarkets at Cannock and one at Northampton. The move pushes Car Supermarket's expansion programme well ahead of schedule. Car Group chief executive Peter King said the broader age range of vehicles offered at Empress's locations would also enable Car Supermarket to extend into retailing older cars.

The Midlands-based Car Group, which floated in November last year, is expected to announce pre-tax profits of £4.8m on sales of more than 22,000 vehicles in the year to the end of August. Pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of February stood at £2.1m, 30% down on the £3m made during the same period of the previous year (Fleet News June 20). The drop was blamed on expansion expenses.

The company is currently seeking planning permission for two further greenfield sites, which it hopes will be developed into Car Supermarkets in 1998.

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