International retailer Group 1 Automotive has acquired the Mercedes-Benz franchises of Robinsons Motor Group in a deal that sees it enter this key premium brand in the UK for the first time.
The deal will add £180m turnover and brings Mercedes dealerships in Peterborough, King’s Lynn, Norwich, Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds to Group 1.
The value of the deal was undisclosed.
Earl Hesterberg, chief executive of Group 1, said: “We are delighted to represent the Mercedes-Benz brand in the UK. Robinsons Autostar is a high-quality business serving East Anglia and complements our strength in that region.”
At the same time, Group 1 appointed Darren Guiver as managing director for its UK operations.
He has worked for the company since February 2016 following the sale of his dealer group, Spire Automotive, to the company. In his new role, Guiver will report directly to Hesterberg.
Robinsons Group, under the leadership of Martin Wallace, will continue to operate its Audi, Citroen and VW Group portfolio across the same region.
Wallace said: “We felt it was the right time strategically to take the opportunity to return some value to shareholders and at the same time release management resource to further leverage the performance of our existing businesses and brand relationships whilst also best positioning ourselves to exploit other sector opportunities. We are delighted to pass on the operation to Group 1, who have been a pleasure to work with and we wish them every success for the future.”
Robinsons’ shareholders were advised by Grant Thornton UK LLP’s Automotive and Corporate Finance team, led by Paul Burrows, head of downstream automotive and Steve White, regional corporate finance. Burrows said: “We are thrilled to have been tasked with this transaction and believe it achieves many goals for all parties. Both Robinsons and Group 1 are high quality businesses delivering great performance for their respective brand partners.
“Legal advisers were Craig Hodgson, Mills and Reeve for Robinsons, and Andy Harris, Dentons UK for Group 1 Automotive”.
From speaking to industry experts, Motor Finance understands due to the weakness of Sterling this is an attractive time for international consolidation. Increasingly there are more international retail operators reviewing the UK market with the prospects of investing in the second largest market in Europe. There have been a number of international acquisitions over the last few years with Le Shing Hong acquiring the assets of Mercedes Benz Retail in Birmingham and Manchester, Motus acquiring Paragon Motors and now Group One acquiring the Robinsons Autostar.
As a result of the deal, Group 1 now operates 47 dealerships across the UK, 180 across the UK, US and Brazil.