MITSUBISHI’S MD Lance Bradley has spoken out about his decision to sell the Colt Car Retail Group to VT Holdings.
Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer at the Geneva Motor Show, Bradley told the story of how the sale to the Japanese firm came about – and why it’s a good thing for Mitsubishi.
Here, in his own words, is what happened:
‘I got a call on my mobile out of the blue last summer. It was a foreign number and I almost didn’t take it, but I’m glad I did. It was from a company in Japan who told me they wanted to expand into Europe, they’d heard we had our own dealer group and they asked if I would be interested in selling it.
‘That’s not a call you get everyday. We were not looking at selling the group. But it was such an unusual call I checked it out to see it was genuine and who the company was.
‘It was from a firm called VT Holdings and when we investigated we could see they are a big dealer group in Japan with 125 dealers and lots of different brands. They are the 13th biggest by volume, but third biggest by profit, so they are enormously successful.
‘We met with them and talked to them about their plans, because what we didn’t want to do was to damage the group. We’ve had it for 30 years after all. It was soon clear they wanted to get into Europe and that they were interested in the UK and they liked our products.
‘So the conversations went further. We visited them in Japan and then they came here. They saw the sites and it was clear they wanted to turn it into a successful dealer group as part of their entry into the UK. It was a too good an opportunity to turn down. But it was not a case of a blank chequebook.
‘I’ve been MD of Mitsubishi for three years now and I’ve always had a philosophy that you should stick with what you are good at. We are good at importing and distributing cars and parts. How good are we at being dealers? Not as good as VT are. It was too good a deal to turn down for everyone.
‘They want to use this as their first entry into Europe. The pound is so weak it is dead cheap. All the problems we’ve been having with buying things from Japan, are the opposite for them. It’s twice as expensive for us to buy cars from Japan, but half as expensive for them to buy companies here.
‘I was sad to see the dealerships sold as it’s been part of our business for a long time, but you can’t let that emotion get in the way of something that I think would be best for both companies.
‘We’ll invest the money in marketing cars in the UK and supporting the dealer network through what is a difficult time. This makes it easier for us to continue that. I’ve had a number of calls and texts from people since it was announced – most of them wanted to know how we kept it so quiet. To be honest, even I’m surprised we managed to do that!’
Read a full interview with Lance Bradley in the next issue of Car Dealer Magazine. Our Geneva special is out on March 17. Order your copy here.