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Lithia enters Mississippi and sheds store in California

Lithia has now acquired dealerships expected to generate $7.6 billion in annual revenue since it launched its five-year growth plan last July.

Lithia Motors Inc. has entered Mississippi, buying a Toyota dealership in the capital city of Jackson, while the auto retailer also sold an Audi store in California.

Lithia on Tuesday said the acquisition of Herrin-Gear Toyotawould add $95 million in annual revenue. The company said it paid for the dealership using funds from its balance sheet capacity. The transaction closed on Monday.
The store, which was owned by Jack Herrin, has been renamed Toyota of Jackson.

"Our growing presence in the Southeast region strategically enhances our nationwide network that is foundational to Lithia and Driveway conveniently serving customers throughout the entire vehicle ownership life cycle," Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer said in a statement.

Driveway is Lithia's online vehicle sales platform.

Last fall, Open Road Capital and Bain Capital Credit bought a majority stake in a four-rooftop auto mall owned by Herrin-Gear Automotive Group in Jackson. Herrin retained ownership of the Toyota store.

Lithia also on Monday sold its Audi Valencia dealership in California to Issam Ghreiwati. The retailer last fall purchased the store as part of a nine-store acquisition from Howard Keyes and Howard Tenenbaum of Keyes Automotive Group.

Ghreiwati also has California stores including Surf City Nissan in Huntington Beach and Corona Nissan, which it bought in January from Larry H. Miller Dealerships. Kerrigan Advisors, a sell-side firm in Irvine, Calif., represented Lithia in the Audi store sale.

Lithia said it has now acquired dealerships expected to generate $7.6 billion in annual revenue since it launched its five-year growth plan last July. The company wants to grow to $50 billion in annual revenue and $50 earnings per share.

Lithia of Medford, Ore., ranks No. 3 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 171,168 new vehicles in 2020. But Lithia's April 2021 acquisition of Michigan's Suburban Collection makes the retailer the second-largest group going forward.

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