Biggest European dealer groupsBiggest European dealer groups


Five UK car dealers named in Top 10 of largest groups in Europe – the Top 20 list revealed

  • ‘Not surprising’ UK dealers are among the biggest and the best, say researchers
  • Five UK dealer groups are among top 10 of the list ranked by revenue
  • Consolidation trend will could big changes to the rankings next year

Time 7:01 am, November 8, 2023

Five UK-based car dealer groups have been named among the top 10 largest in Europe, according to new research.

Arnold Clark, Lookers, Inchcape, Vertu and Marshall have all placed in the top 10 dealer groups in Europe ranked on revenue.

The list ranks car dealer groups by the amount of money they generate, not their profitability, unlike the Car Dealer Top 100 which looks at the profitability of UK car dealer groups.

Emil Frey tops the list, created by Automotive News Europe and ICDP, with turnover of €14.80bn (£12.86bn). 

The Swiss firm represents 50 brands with some 943 franchise points across Europe. In 2022, the group sold 597,000 new and used cars.

Penske is second thanks to its large operation in the UK where it owns Sytner and Carshop, Arnold Clark is third and Lookers fourth.

The list shows the sheer size of the dealer group operations based in the UK.

Steve Young, managing director of ICDP, told Car Dealer: ‘UK groups have always featured strongly since we started assembling the Top 50, 10 years ago.  

‘In many ways the modern supergroup with some centralised operations and day-to-day oversight through sophisticated reporting systems was pioneered here by Pendragon and has been replicated and improved on since, not just in the UK but elsewhere in Europe.  

‘We can genuinely be proud of the benchmarks they set in many areas and their continual quest to push the envelope in everything they do. The list of areas where they lead the world is a long one, covering both sales, aftersales and F&I, the physical world and online.

 ‘It is therefore not surprising that they attract attention from overseas, currently from North America, but also from the Middle East, South Africa and Asia.  

‘The interesting questions will be whether these new owners will recognise that there are practices that they can learn from in their operations elsewhere.’

The compilers also explained that dealer consolidation across Europe is on a ‘long term upwards trend’ and referenced the large deals coming to a close in the UK.

It said Lithia’s successful bid to buy Pendragon’s dealerships and leasing business and combining it with Jardine, which it already owns, will see the American firm catapulted up the list. 

Pendragon currently sits in 11th place in the 2022 list, which focuses on independent dealer groups, not those owned by manufacturers.

‘The combined group is likely to be third in our list next year,’ said a spokesperson for ICDP.

‘How will the OEMs react to this? Marshalls has lost 35 franchise points across four brands since being purchased by Constellation Automotive Group.’ 

The list reveals that more than two thirds of the top 50 groups have completed at least one purchase transaction since January 2020, with half of those on the list completing two or more deals.

Seven groups accounted for 56% of all deals completed – with Vertu Motors, the UK listed dealer group, being one of them. 

Hedin Mobility and Van Mossel, two other businesses with recent deals announced in the UK, were also among the most acquisitive groups. 

A spokesperson for ICDP added: ‘The UK continues to maintain a strong presence in the Top 50 with 11 members in total, including half the Top 10. 

‘However, this is starting to change as the result of recent activity involving the transfer of ownership of Jardine, Lookers and Pendragon. 

‘Although frustrated in their pursuit of Pendragon, Hedin have invested in the UK through the acquisition of 14 outlets from Mercedes-Benz Retail UK and 12 BMW Group outlets by taking over the Stephen James Group and Arden Group.

‘Including the pending Pendragon sale, 567 franchise points have been sold in the UK since January 2022 in a total of 62 deals.’

ICDP said that it identified 825 dealerships changing hands in 2022 with 161 of them cross borders. So far this year, a further 1,312 dealerships have been sold with 522 of those cross borders.

The full top 50 list can be found here. Visit our dedicated Car Dealer Top 100 section for the latest list of the UK’s most profitable car dealers.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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