AN EXPANDING motor group has bought the franchised dealerships of one of its Hampshire rivals.

Richmond Motor Group struck a deal with Sparshatts to buy the sites, allowing its competitor to exit the franchised dealer market while keeping its non-franchised used car operation.

The deal covers two Skoda sites, one Suzuki sites and one Mitsubishi dealership, split between Fareham and Botley.

All staff affected will keep their jobs with one of the businesses.

The franchised dealerships will be rebranded under the Richmond name, while a number of Sparshatts directors have kept the company name and its non-franchised used car outlets.

Richmond Motor Group is led by sole owner, founder and managing director Michael Nobes.

The Portsmouth-raised businessman started his career as a part-time valeter while still at school. He built the company from his first Hyundai site in 1995 to a quarter of a billion pound operation.

Based in Farlington, Portsmouth, it has 12 franchised locations and one used car supermarket, covering an area from South West London to Southampton. It employs more than 500 people locally.

The business has plans to add another four franchise locations in the next 12 months.

Mr Nobes said: “The acquisition is key to diversifying the group’s portfolio to ensure long term resilience in a tough UK market.

“Despite a general downturn in the UK automotive sector, all our existing businesses have seen significant year on year growth, which is testament to the fantastic team of people we employ.

“We intend to apply many of the Richmond cutting edge processes to the Sparshatts business to leverage profitability and returns.”

Automotive industry consultant Fraser Brown said: “Michael’s business growth has been remarkable and unprecedented in terms of building the business from nothing to the size it is today with no outside investors. To start a business and create what Michael has is a remarkable testament to his leadership and business skill.”

Richmond Motor Group was the highest new entry to the top 100 dealer groups in the UK this year.

Operations director Sam Nobes said: “Richmond has a number of unique ways of operating that put us significantly ahead of other dealer groups in the way we market our business.

“Our entire business is about delivering an exceptional customer experience and treating our colleagues and customers like friends of the Richmond family. We are a quarter billion-pound company now and we have ambitions to multiply the size of the group again over coming years.”

In a joint statement, Louis Jones, managing director of Sparshatts, and Michael Nobes said: “This is a deal that works for everyone, Richmond acquire the franchised businesses to diversify their portfolio of brands and it allows an exit strategy for some of the Sparshatts directors whilst allowing others to reinvest and expand in a consolidated used car business.

“It works for all the brands involved but most importantly all the existing staff are retained in one of the two businesses.”

Stuart Datlen, managing partner of the Moore Stephens Southampton office, who helped broker the deal and did the due diligence work, said: “I am delighted to have been a key player in this acquisition, two local businesses brought together by another local business. At Moore Stephens we have a whole range of services for businesses of all sizes. Richmond are an important customer of ours and we have been with them on their journey from being founded in 1995 to the quarter of a billion pound company they are today.”


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