40-up for family-owned auto business

A FAMILY business which started life in an old bacon curing factory and now employs 140 people is celebrating its 40th birthday.

A FAMILY business which started life in an old bacon curing factory and now employs 140 people is celebrating its 40th birthday.

The Suffolk-based Turner Group began as a small family concern selling used cars from premises at Needham Market.

Four decades on, it is a multi-franchise motor group covering most of East Anglia and with outlets as far west as Cambridge.

However, it remains a family concern with the couple who founded it in 1965, John and Pauline Turner, still involved as its chairman and company secretary.

Their sons, Ian and Glen Turner, are now joint managing directors.

Several of its 140 employees have been with the company for two decades or more.

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The company opened a filling station on the A14 near Stowmarket in 1972. It remains within the group, and today it is the only privately-owned filling station on that stretch of road.

In 1979, the firm acquired a site at Tayfen Road, Bury St Edmunds, and set up the Toyota Centre there. A Lexus centre was opened in Cambridge in 2001, which later moved to a joint Lexus and Toyota site established by the group at the city's Coldham's Lane.

The Cambridge operation was a multi-million pound development, and a massive investment for the company. Glen Turner described it as “the first of its type in Europe”.

Turners gained its Hyundai franchise in 1999, and built a new dealership in Ransomes Way, Ipswich, which opened in January 2000.

The group now has a range of franchises in the region covering Toyota, Saab and Hyundai.

Staff at the site have won awards for customer care, and the operation ranks in the top ten Hyundai dealerships in the country.

Hyundai approached Turners about covering the Bury St Edmunds area, and an existing premises is now being refurbished.

“It has been an exciting and rewarding 40 years, but I think the next 40 years are going to be equally challenging,” said John Turner, who, along with his wife, still takes an active interest in the business.