THE region's largest motor retail group has appointed a well-respected industry figure as its finance director.
Gerard Murray has joined Benfield from Immunodiagnostics Systems Holdings, returning to a sector in which he has a considerable wealth of experience and enjoyed a lot of success.
An economics graduate and chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen, Murray was formerly the youngest finance director of a quoted company, aged 27, having been part of the executive team that floated Reg Vardy.
He played a major part in Reg Vardy’s growth to become the second-largest motor retail group in the UK.
The 49-year-old was finance director of Darlington-based Northgate plc and helped develop the FTSE 350 company into the largest commercial vehicle flexible rental provider in Europe.
He has also had a number of non-executive roles including a spell as a governor of Sunderland University.
Mark Squires, Benfield’s chief executive, said: “This is a key appointment which demonstrates our strategic intent and aspiration to deliver our company vision to become one of the best in our industry.
“Ged is one of the most respected financial directors in the North East and nationally within the motor industry and will prove a great asset to Benfield as we continue to grow all areas of our business in the years ahead.”
Speaking about his appointment, Murray said: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining Benfield, who are a well-respected and well-run family business.
“It is particularly pleasing for me to be returning to the motor trade at this time and I am excited about the challenges this will bring.”
Benfield is an independently- owned family business founded in Newcastle in 1957 by John Squires senior and developed by John Squires junior, the present chairman.
Benfield has 34 retail outlets throughout the North East, Yorkshire, Cumbria and South West Scotland across a portfolio 14 car retail brands.
Last month, the company reported its latest annual results which saw turnover rise from £380m in 2010 to £415.5m in 2011. Pre-tax profit was down from £6m to £3.6m.