Pendragon deal boosts Lithia’s firepower in UK market

Pendragon’s multi-million pound sale of its dealerships and leasing businesses to US-based dealer group Lithia & Driveway will see its UK chief Neil Williamson at the helm of a business with considerable market influence.

Under the deal, Pendragon’s UK motor and fleet management divisions will now report to Williamson, Lithia’s UK regional president.

He had been CEO of Jardine Motors since 2015 when the £1.5bn turnover business ranked 7th in the AM100 and headed its integration when Lithia acquired it last year.

The £367m deal leaves Lithia in charge of nearly 200 franchised dealerships in the UK which range from Stratstone and Evans Halshaw to Carstore’s used car supermarkets.

Thanks to Lithia’s new acquisitions, in the space of 18 months, Williamson has gone from heading what was the UK’s 9th largest dealer group (Jardine Motors, 9th in 2021 AM100) with just £1.35 billion revenues and 48 dealerships to overseeing what will now rank second in the AM100 with revenues of around £5bn – behind Sytner but leapfrogging Arnold Clark.

Immediately after the deal completed, Williamson said Lithia’s investment in Pendragon would see it expand its footprint into Wales and Scotland and increase its brands, markets, and density in existing locations, all of which reflected its parent’s commitment to invest in the UK automotive industry.

The listed Pendragon will now continue under the guise of Pinewood Technologies, its automotive software arm, which will integrate its technology platform across all Uk sites and will also develop technology solutions to capitalise on the North American market through a planned joint venture.

Lithia added that its acquisition of Pendragon Vehicle Management added a highly profitable fleet management services business and ‘rounded out the reach and density of the network in the UK market’.

“This increased footprint, alongside the integration of Pendragon Vehicle Management and migration to a single technology platform with Pinewood, establishes Lithia as a diversified, innovative, and scaled UK presence with significant advantages to peers, said Williamson.

“We look forward to working with our new talented colleagues and OEM partners in the pursuit of providing transportation solutions wherever, whenever, and however customers desire.”

Chris Holzshu, Lithia’s chief operating officer, and George Hines, chief technology officer, have been appointed to Pendragon’s board.

Mark Willis, who served as the director and chief financial officer, who resigns, hands over to Oliver Mann, formerly the director of group finance at Pendragon.

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