GEOFF Snow, founder and chairman of major regional motor group Snows, is to step down after nearly half a century at the top.

He is succeeded by son Stephen, pictured, who has been involved in the business for 25 years.

Geoff started out in Southampton with an office equipment and printing business in 1961, a journey which ends today with 14 car dealerships. This includes a flagship Toyota and Lexus operation which opened in Hedge End earlier this year to complement the existing Toyota dealership in Southampton.

Snows Motor Group also operates Volvo franchises for Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire together with BMW and Mini dealerships in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight and two Seat operations in Portsmouth and North Baddesley.

Geoff stays on as a non-executive director.

Stephen joined the company as a 16-year-old in 1981, working his way up from cleaning cars through to his most recent role as group operations director.

He said: "I am delighted that my experience and aspirations for the future put me in a position to hopefully guide the company to further success."