Family-run MG dealer closes down without warning after more than 50 years in business

  • Thompson First MG closes down after more than half a century in Stroud
  • Owners put site up for lease after deciding not to extend franchise agreement with Chinese brand
  • Customers arrive for work to be told they now need to take cars to Gloucester instead

Time 9:05 am, October 5, 2023

A family-run MG dealership has closed down without warning, leaving customers in a state of limbo.

Thompson First MG in Stroud, Gloucestershire, appears to have ceased trading after more than 50 years after deciding not to renew its franchise agreement with the Chinese brand.

As a result, customers arriving for essential maintenance work have been told that they now need to take their cars to Baylis MG Gloucester, around nine miles away.

One customer told the Stroud Times: ‘I was shocked to drop my car off for a service and they told me the business was closing. It’s such a shame that another business is closing in Stroud.

‘They told me to use the MG garage in Gloucester in future.’

The local paper reports that Thompson First was established as Lacey and Thompson in 1972 by founders Dick Thompson and Paul Lacey.

Since then, the dealership has represented a string of high-profile brands including TVR, Saab and Citroen, as well as MG.

Over the past half a century the business has passed through three generations of the Thompson family and is now run by Cameron, the grandson of founder Dick.

The firm rebranded as Thompson First in the year 2000 and has represented MG in its current form since 2019.

However, the site has now been put up for lease via commercial lettings agency Hawkins Watton. The firm says it has already been experiencing interest in the premises and admits there is the potential that it could be sold.

John Hawkins, boss the agency, said: ‘People are all over the prospect after the owner, quite a while back, made the decision to not renew the MG dealership.

‘Ahead of the marketing details, we have plenty of interest already. It’s completely unencumbered and a tailor-made car dealership, with a showroom area of 4,400 sq ft and a servicing workshop of 1,750 sq ft.’

Thompson First is the second dealership in Stroud to close down recently, following Bristol Street Motors closing its Ford site there in June.

MG says that the news came as a shock to the brand and it had been expecting to work with Thompson First long-term.

Guy Pigounakis, MG’s UK commercial director, told Car Dealer: ‘This was a surprise to us as we had just agreed a development plan with them.

‘This was certainly not a decision we forced upon them, to the contrary, we thought we were working with them to secure long term representation in Stroud.

‘Sadly opportunities to replace them “locally” are not immediately apparent and we had no contingency plan as we thought we had a long term relationship in place.

‘In the short/medium, and maybe long term, Bristol and Gloucester are the best options for existing customers.

‘This is such a shame, they are really nice people and we are disappointed we didn’t get a heads up but occasionally these things happen.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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