A MAJOR regional motor group has celebrated 50 years in business, having risen from humble beginnings as a Southampton office supplier.

The Snows Group now sells BMW, Kia, Lexus, Mini, Seat, Toyota and Volvo cars from 19 retail dealerships across Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, employing more than 350 staff.

Staff celebrated the milestone yesterday at a bash in Oxford Street, where Geoff Snow, 80, founded the business in 1962.

He stepped down from his role as chairman five years ago after building the company from scratch.

From Snows Office Supplies he quickly expanded to set up five other companies before launching his first motor dealership in St James Road, Shirley, in 1979, selling Toyotas.

Snows most recently added the former Southgate Peugeot dealership in Winchester Hill, Romsey, to its stable, and expanded its Seat franchise with Snows Volvo Salisbury.