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Buzz continues in busy dealership buy-sell space

The flurry of dealership M&A moves continues in February.

We start with a public retailer from the Northwest that has expanded its presence in the Southeast.

Lithia Motors & Driveway announced last week that the group has purchased a Land Rover dealership and a Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram store from Fields Auto Group. Both locations are in the Orlando, Fla., area.

Lithia also opened a previously awarded Infiniti store in downtown Los Angeles.

“We are excited to welcome the high performing Fields Auto Group to the Lithia & Driveway family," Lithia Motors & Driveway president and chief executive officer Bryan DeBoer said in a news release.

“This acquisition will further expand the reach of Driveway, our digital in-home solution, providing products and services throughout the entire vehicle-ownership lifecycle in our growing Southeast Region.”

The retailer anticipates the two Fields Auto Group stores in Florida will bring in annualized revenue of $200 million, with the LA store bringing in $40 million.

Kerrigan Advisors represented and advised Fields Auto Group on the sale.

“We were honored to represent Fields Auto Group in the sale of these valuable Florida stores,” founder and managing director Erin Kerrigan said in a separate news release. “Orlando is one of the top growth markets in the country, and dealerships there are highly coveted by buyers — especially luxury brands like Land Rover and popular nameplates, such as Jeep and Ram.

“Kerrigan Advisors’ transaction experience and knowledge of the Florida market was key to making this sale seamless and beneficial for all involved.”

Former NADA chairman Fox sells several stores
Next up, Haig Partners said Thursday it advised Fox Auto Group on its sale of Toyota, Honda, Subaru and CJDR stores in Auburn, N.Y. to Jonathan Sobel.

Owners Bill and Jane Fox, who are siblings, also plan to sell their Sharon Chevrolet store to longtime employee Michael Carrow, Haig Partners said in a release.

The Foxes have sold several of their dealerships to their respective general managers over the years.

“When we made the decision to sell, we carefully considered who should represent us.  We interviewed several buy-sell advisors, and the clear choice was Haig Partners,” said Bill Fox, who was the 2015 chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, in a news release. “We preferred their straight-forward message, and they exceeded our expectations all along the way.”

Said Jane Fox in the release, “This group of dealerships is part of our legacy and we wanted to partner with the advisor that would listen to us and match us with a buyer who would share the respect we have for our customers and employees in Auburn.  We wish Jonathan Sobel much success.”

Sobel added, “It's rare to have an opportunity to purchase Toyota, Subaru, Honda and Jeep franchises all together in one well-run group that has been under family ownership for 50 years. We look forward to maintaining the successful business that Jane and Bill built over the years.”

Nate Klebacha is a co-founder of Haig Partners. In the release, he noted: “Bill and Jane are wonderful people. We were honored to work with them through this process. Covid-19 appeared in the midst of the transaction, but the two sides were able to come together for a beneficial outcome.  This transaction shows the resilience in automotive retail and how even a global pandemic cannot dimmish demand for well-run dealerships.”

Morrie's buys Wisconsin dealer group
Earlier this month, Morrie’s Auto Group announced it had purchased Brenengen Auto Group, a six-store group in Western Wisconsin.

The retailer made the purchase through a partnership with Brenengen founders Don and Cheryl Brenengen and the group’s management team.

Morrie’s CEO Lance Iserman said in a news release, “We are thrilled to add Brenengen to the Morrie's family. Brenengen is a natural complement to our existing business and has similar values rooted in a no-haggle, best-price approach and a focus on customer experience, community partnership, and overall culture. We are excited about the opportunity to work with Don and the existing Brenengen team to continue to grow the business and realize benefits for our collective customers, employees and brand partners.”

Don Brenengen added in the release, “We are thrilled to join Lance and the Morrie's team. Their culture of innovation and customer service combined with deep industry knowledge will create significant growth opportunities for our employees and a superior experience for our customers. We look forward to working as part of the Morrie’s team to further build the combined company's presence as a market leader in Wisconsin.”

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