Pendragon now dwarfs is closest rival, Lancaster, which runs 124 franchises. Pendragon's shareholders are expected to approve the sale at the end of the month and this will see Audi, Chrysler, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Volkswagen and Volvo dealerships added to a portfolio of more than 160 sites.
Chief executive Trevor Finn said the company was now well prepared for an upturn in new car sales. Last March Finn said the group was looking to raise £30 million from selling group businesses and confirmed Pendragon's future strategy of focusing on car retailing via large franchise territories. This led to speculation that its 10,647-vehicle contract hire arm, Pendragon Contracts, could be up for sale as non-core business, along with the 6,500-vehicle c.2K operation, acquired as part of the £83.7 million buyout of dealer group Evans Halshaw in 1998.