Elms BMW and MINI dealership in Bedford sold to American company

Elms BMW at Bedford. PNL-140112-154650001
Elms BMW at Bedford. PNL-140112-154650001

The Elms BMW and MINI dealership in Bedford has been sold to an American company.

The sale by the Bedfordida Group to US-based car firm Group 1 Automotive also includes the company’s Cambridge and Stansted sites.

The sale agreement between Bedfordia and Group 1 Automotive will see the Elms dealerships come under the new owners today, Monday, December 1.

The dealerships will continue to operate as Elms Bedford BMW/MINI, Elms Cambridge BMW/MINI and Elms Stansted BMW/MINI.

Group 1 Automotive, the third largest dealer group in the US with interests in Brazil and the UK, has 14 dealerships in the UK, predominantly in the South East of England including 5 BMW and MINI franchises as part of the Chandlers Group and Barons Group, and also owns the Essex Audi Group and the Think Ford Group.

John Ibbett, chairman of Bedfordia Group, said: “The sale of the Automotive business to Group 1 is a very positive step, bringing with it huge opportunities for growth and long term stability for the business and its employees by being part of a much larger group. I feel very encouraged that Group 1 has a complementary culture fit and ambitions for growth in line with Bedfordia’s. From small beginnings, we have achieved a great deal, such that today we have world renowned facilities, great and innovative processes, a credible and recognised brand, but most of all, a team of great people of whom I am extremely proud.”

Earl J. Hesterberg, Group 1’s president and chief executive officer, said: “We are pleased to add these three dealerships to our UK portfolio, which add both scale and leverage for our business while broadening our UK footprint to 17 dealerships, including existing BMW/MINI, Audi and Ford operations.

“This acquisition strengthens our UK portfolio, which represents nearly 10 percent of our total revenues, and positions our UK segment for approximately $1.3 billion in estimated annual revenues. In addition, we are pleased to build our global relationship with BMW by expanding our partnership with BMW UK.”

The sale was managed by Grant Thornton, Dentons and Knight Frank. Tom Poynton, head of automotive consultancy at Knight Frank has commented: “the market is in a good place – as this deal demonstrates, profitable, premium brand businesses are very much in demand”.

Group 1 is an international Fortune 500 automotive retailer that owns and operates 153 automotive dealerships, 198 franchises, and 38 collision centres in the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil that offer 33 brands of vehicles.

Bedfordia have been in the Automotive sector since 1981 with a portfolio of car dealerships and aftersales facilities across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. These include the Elms BMW and Elms MINI group, manufacturer approved Myltons Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Norse Saab aftersales centres, as well as the Bedfordia Accident Repair and Service Centre.

The Automotive division generates an annual turnover of around £150m.