Large dealer groups have grown by acquiring smaller rivals to help them navigate looming challenges, such as the move by automakers to turn dealers into distributors in exchange for a fixed fee.
“Large investors can adapt more aggressively than smaller investors, who may find financial risks and role changes unacceptable,” said Young.
Major store ownership moves include Constellation, owner of the BCA car auction brand, acquiring #10-ranked UK company Marshall Motor Group in May 2022.
By September of this year, ICDP tracked 495 dealership acquisitions, 123 of which were from dealer groups outside the country in which the acquisition took place. Firms making these deals include Emil Frey, his Hedin from Sweden and the Dutch group Van Mossel.
Last year’s big cross-border acquisitions included Hedin’s purchase of 74 stores from Dutch company Stern Groep. Hedin is also embarking on the acquisition of his publicly traded Pendragon.
Large dealer groups are still concentrated in the UK, Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, while Germany and Italy are underrepresented in the top 50.
Despite being Europe’s largest car market, Germany has only nine of the top 50 retail groups. The decline in ranking presence reflects the still fragmented and regionalized structure of store ownership in the market, Young said.
“Germany still has a village mentality,” he said.
Italy, on the other hand, has only one group in the top 50, Autotorino.