|Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: LOOK|
|Headquarters||Stretford, Manchester, United Kingdom|
|Phil White (Chairman)
Andy Bruce (CEO)
|Revenue||£3,649.1 million (2015)|
|£80.9 million (2015)|
|£50.8 million (2015)|
The Lookers Group was established in 1908, by John Looker. It was based in Manchester, and dealt with the sale of bicycles, parts, accessories. In 1910, the business joined forces, to create Lookers Ltd. Until World War I, Lookers Ltd was primarily a Ford dealer, which thrived to such an extent. In 1911, the garage in Hardman Street had to be completely rebuilt, to accommodate the business generated by Ford.
In 1918, the business was appointed a distributor of Austin Motor Company. It continued to grow throughout Lancashire and Cheshire, through the acquisition of a number of garages. Lookers and Austin became very closely associated such that the slogan "Lookers is Austin" lasted for many years. The business continued to prosper until World War II, in 1939. This was when the Austin factory was committed to the war effort, and there were hard times throughout the country. In the 1960s, the first major acquisition occurred, when the group moved into Yorkshire.
In 1973, the group's headquarters were transferred to Chester Road, where they remain to this day, and the company became a listed company on the London Stock Exchange. Issuing shares on the stock exchange created extra funds, which then enabled the company to take its first major steps towards expansion.
Lookers strengthened its Vauxhall dealerships, with the acquisition of Braid Group, a major dealership group based in Liverpool, for £3 million. The purchase was completed in 1983. By December 1984, the first full year including Braid, the company's sales topped £150 million.
In 1989, an important purchase came, when it acquired SMAC Continental, based in South East England, for £14.7 million. That purchase also added SMAC's Mercedes-Benz dealerships to Lookers portfolio of manufacturers.
In 1996 Looks bought Charles Hurst Group, a dealership in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Lookers began an investment program, which included the opening of a £4.5 million dealership in Stretford in 1999, for sales of Suzuki, SEAT and Mazda. Investments totalling £20 million, in order to open new showrooms in Chester, Liverpool, and Oldham in 2001. The company added a number of existing dealerships as well, such as 452 Birmingham and Spekehall Vauxhall, bought from Vauxhall and Rystar Aston and Selly Oak Vauxhall, bought from Ryland Group. In August 2002, Lookers further strengthened its Vauxhall network, with the purchase of Elt Brothers, based in Birmingham, for £900,000.
In May 2002, Lookers teamed up with Morrisons, in an experiment to sell cars from Internet displays in three supermarkets of Morrisons. By 2003, Lookers' network of dealerships had topped 90. The company had built up an extensive network, throughout United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. In February 2003, Lookers completed its United Kingdom presence, with a move into Scotland. Through Hurst, it acquired JN Holdings, better known as the operator of Taggarts Motor Group in Glasgow and Motherwell.
In August 2004, Lookers made another significant acquisition, this time boosting its presence in the United Kingdom aftermarket car parts circuit, when it bought FPS Distribution.
Other dealerships acquired through December 2004 included Savoy Honda in Warrington; Vauxhall dealerships in Lisburn and Portadown; Darlington Volkswagen; another Volkswagen dealership in Northallerton; and a Saab dealership in Chester. In February 2005, Lookers added a used car "supermarket" Bristol Trade Center, paying £8.5 million.
In December 2005, Lookers made a bid for larger rival Reg Vardy. However, Pendragon PLC offered a counter bid, which succeeded after Lookers decided it could not raise its bid. During the bidding battle for Reg Vardy, Pendragon made an unsuccessful hostile bid for Lookers.
In October 2007 Lookers acquired Dutton Forshaw, another dealership, from Lloyds TSB for £60 million. The company went on to buy Lomond Audi Group in July 2012, Sheilds Motors, and opened Volkswagen Van Centre Glasgow in May 2013 and Colborne Group in March 2014.
On 3 September 2015, Lookers acquired Tyneside based Benfield Motor Group for £87.5 million and expanded to become the third biggest car dealership in the country. The deal will also see Lookers plc expand further into the North East and Cumbria. Benfield brands include Nissan, Renault, Volkswagen, Skoda, Kia, Honda, Hyundai, Lexus, Toyota and Ford. All of which span from North Yorkshire up to Newcastle upon Tyne, Carlisle and Dumfries.
Lookers plc operates a national network of car dealerships, featuring a wide range of car manufacturers, including the volume brands Vauxhall and Renaults. The company also has dealerships for a number of high end manufacturers, including Ferrari in Northern Ireland, and Jaguar in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The company also sells agricultural vehicles, equipment and machinery, and operates the United Kingdom's leading wholesale auto parts distributor, FPS Distribution.
Lookers represents many motor brands, including Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, Hyundai, SEAT, Volkswagen, Renault, Škoda, Kia, Vauxhall and Ford. The company operates as Charles Hurst in Northern Ireland and as Taggarts Motor in Scotland. It also operates as Lookers Audi incorporating the former Lomond Audi Group and the Audi operations of Colbornes & Benfield groups.
- "Annual Report 2015" (PDF). Lookers. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- "About Lookers". lookers.co.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
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- "Parts Warehouse Distributor FPS Acquired by Lookers". Just Auto. 22 July 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Edited Harry Wallop (22 March 2005). "The Questor column". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Edward Simpkins (19 March 2006). "Lookers bid to foil Pendragon". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Lookers acquires Dutton Forshaw". AM online. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Curtis Hutchinson. "Lookers acquires Lomond Audi Group". Motor Trader Magazine - Motor Industry: News - Jobs - Awards. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Lookers dealership in £8.8m takeover of Shields car firm". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Lookers acquires Colborne Garages for £33.6m". 11 March 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- Robert Gibson (3 September 2015). "Benfield Motor Group acquired by Lookers plc for £87.5m in cash". nechronicle. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- "Lookers' car parts business FPS makes UK history with airborne drone delivery". am-online.com. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.