Five retail car dealerships in southern England have new owners following work by administrators at Smith & Williamson.
Auto-trade specialists from the firm’s South Coast office were brought in after Now Motor Retailing Limited, which had an £83 million turnover, ran into financial difficulties due to a “tough market place”.
With more than 250 staff, Now Motor Retailing operated five Vauxhall dealerships across London and two in Wiltshire, with a head office in Surrey.
Smith & Williamson’s Greg Palfrey and Steve Adshead, from the restructuring and recovery services team in Southampton, have been officially appointed joint administrators of the company.
In the run-up to the administration, they successfully secured two buyers following negotiations with interested parties.
Kingston, Hayes, Heathrow and Staples Corner in London have been purchased by Go Vauxhall, a Vauxhall dealership with sites across the city, Kent and the West Midlands.
The Swindon dealership at Langley Road, Hillmead, has been acquired by the Eden Motor Group, which has 20 showrooms and services centres across southern England and sells Vauxhall, Mazda, Fiat, Hyundai and Peugeot vehicles.
Now Motor Retailing’s headquarters at New Haw Road, Addlestone, Surrey, are also being sold by administrators at Smith & Williamson to a third party.
The dealership site at George Lane, Marlborough, Wiltshire, was not acquired, with the loss of nine jobs.
Greg Palfrey, national head of restructuring and recovery services at Smith & Williamson, said: “Steve and I were appointed as joint administrators to manage Now Motor Retailing Limited’s affairs, business and property after it experienced financial difficulties in a tough market place.
“Working with management and with our extensive turnaround experience in the retail motoring sector, we sought expressions of interest.
“As a result two buyers came forward in the tight timeframe, helping to save many of the 250 jobs depending on this successful outcome.
“Go Vauxhall purchased Kingston, Hayes, Heathrow and Staples Corner and Swindon has been acquired by Eden Motor Group.
“The Surrey headquarters of Now Motor Retailing are being sold to a third party.”
Mr Palfrey added: “It is a matter of public record that the retail motor sector is going through another testing time, with market forces outside the control of single brand and multi-brand dealerships, however well run they are with Now Motor Retailing being very profitable up until the end 2016.”
He paid tribute to managing director Jon Taylor and finance director David Challis, who both formed the company in 2006, for providing the Smith & Williamson team with “exceptional” support.
It is too early to state what money is owed to unsecured creditors, stressed Mr Palfrey.
Now Motor Retailing acquired the Swindon and Marlborough dealerships – two former Skurrays Vauxhall sites – in January 2016.
A retail sales operation at Addlestone was relocated to Now Motor Retailing’s West Byfleet site in 2016.
A site run by the company at Abbot Close, West Byfleet, near Walton-upon-Thames, subsequently closed; operations were moved to the Heathrow site at Staines Road, Bedfont.