VERTU Motors is spending £4.3m to buy two dealerships that take the fast-growing group into Cumbria for the first time.
The Gateshead-based business acquired the entire share capital of Dobies (Carlisle) Limited, which includes a Vauxhall outlet and a SEAT business in Carlisle.
Vertu, which trades mainly as Bristol Street and Macklin Motors across the UK, now has a total of 92 sales and after-sales outlets.
Robert Forrester, Vertu Motors chief executive, said: “This acquisition extends the group’s operations across the North of England and into Cumbria for the first time.
“These two outlets complement the group’s existing businesses in the North of England, and in particular its Vauxhall operations in Newcastle, Hexham and Durham, which are adjacent to the acquired territory.”
The acquisition makes Vertu the UK’s seventh largest automotive retailer in revenue terms.
“The group continues to be active in identifying additional growth opportunities as it seeks to develop a scaled automotive retail operation in the United Kingdom,” said Forrester.
As part of the Carlisle deal, Vertu acquired a 123-year lease on the site, which is just off the M6. The Dobies acquisitions had a turnover of £10.7m in the year to the end of December and made an operating loss of £0.1m.
The deal brings the number of Vauxhall outlets in the group to 13 and takes the SEAT dealerships to four. Vertu also operates Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Iveco, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault and Suzuki dealerships.
The group, which was set up and listed on the AIM at the end of 2006, has ambitions to continue its expansion by both acquisition and organic growth.
Just before Christmas, it bought a Vauxhall dealership in Harrogate, three Honda dealerships in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham, and, in September, it took over Nissan and Renault dealerships in Bradford.
Vertu reported sales of £628m in the first half of its financial year, and profits of £5.2m.
The latest acquisition came a day after figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that more than two million new cars were sold in the UK last year – up 5.3% on 2011 and the highest since 2008.