Lookers acquire Benfield Motor Group

The largest independent motor group in the North East, Benfield, has been acquired by Lookers plc for £87.5m in cash.

The firm has grown into a leading motor retail and after-sales service group, with 30 dealerships, more than 1,600 staff and an annual turnover of nearly £700m.

Chief executive of the family-run business, Mark Squires is now to leave the company along with chairman John Squires Junior.

However, reassurances have been given that North East jobs will safeguarded in the move.

Mark Squires said, ‘This was a very difficult decision for our family to reach after all these years and company history.’

‘However after much careful thought and consideration, we think this is the best course for the business and for the long-term future of our staff and customers to become part of a national group.’

‘I’m pleased to confirm staff jobs will be safeguarded and Lookers plc certainly enjoy the scale, capabilities and access to financial capital that is required to win and secure the business in the decades ahead.’

‘Lookers are a first class company and have demonstrated their strength and depth as one of the leading motor groups in the country.’

‘In Benfield they are acquiring a fantastic business with a great culture and customer service ethic and as a family business we are proud of what we have achieved.’

‘We are grateful to everyone who works for Benfield and to each and every one of them for their contribution to our success over many years.’

Lookers plc is among the UK’s principal automotive retail and distribution groups, covering over 30 franchises across 80 locations

With the addition of Benfield – the trading name for Addison Motors Limited – the enlarged group will span 160 dealerships, employ over 8,500 staff and turn over in excess £4 billion, with sales of more than 200,000 cars annually.

The acquisition is being funded using new banking facilities made available to Lookers by Bank of Ireland, Barclays Bank, HSBC Bank, Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Yorkshire Bank.

Andy Bruce, chief executive at Lookers said, ‘We are delighted to have acquired this respected and long established family business.’

‘A key attraction for us is the cultural fit. Both Lookers and Benfield share an approach which puts employees and customers at the heart of our business and this acquisition will ensure that continues.’

“We are committed to preserving and nurturing this culture as well as putting in place new initiatives which allows Benfield to benefit from our larger scale and leverage the investments we have made.