Ipswich: Bosses of dealer Robinsons Motor Group looking to expand after buying Cox of Ipswich

Bosses of Norwich-based Robinsons Motor Group are eyeing up fresh buy-out opportunities in the new year on the back of an expansion into Peterborough and Ipswich as they look to bolster their business when the economy begins to grow.

Andrew Bracking, brand manager at Robinsons Volkswagen, which employs more than 600 people at centres across East Anglia, has concluded a deal to acquire Cooks Motor Group in Peterborough for an undisclosed fee.

The buy-out, which was brokered by ASE’s Dealermatch service, follows the retirement of Cooks owner Jonathan Cook and will add an extra 114 staff to the motor group’s workforce and boost turnover by �30m.

Robinsons, which is ranked 25th in the EDP Top 100 companies in the region, with a turnover of �176.4m also recently acquired the SEAT dealership Cox of Ipswich.

Andrew Bracking, brand director of Robinsons, said the buy-out follows a positive period for the company, which had remained relatively unscathed by the recession.

He said: “We see the Peterborough area as an important territory to operate in with huge potential for long-term growth and we’re looking forward to working with the existing staff and management in developing the Cooks business whilst merging it into the Robinsons Motor Group.

“In the last few years since the start of recessionary trading we have continued to trade in a controlled healthy manner which has allowed us to pursue a careful plan of acquisition.

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“This started with the purchase of Cox of Ipswich and more recently Cooks Motor Group in Peterborough which consists of the following business units: Volkswagen passengers and commercial vehicles, Citroen and Hyundai.”

Mr Bracking added “We are in a position where we are quite cash rich as a company and as growth begins to happen next year then we will be acquiring other businesses.

“Our unique characteristic as opposed to other businesses, is that we run extremely lean and make sure our costs are very well controlled.”

Established in 1927, Robinsons is an approved new and used car dealer for Mercedes-Benz, SEAT, Skoda, Smart and Volkswagen with car centres in Norwich, King’s Lynn, Cambridge, North Walsham, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, as well as the two new additions in Ipswich and Peterborough.

David Kendrick, head of corporate finance at ASE, said: “The motor industry is a low-margin sector and a lot of administrations occur because it’s more difficult for companies to succeed.

“But there are some strong and good businesses out there like Robinsons that continue to grow.”