Arnold Clark buys Newcastle's Patterson

ARNOLD Clark will add some £250 million to its near £2 billion annual turnover after the motor dealer continued its drive into the English market.

The acquisition of Patterson Motor Group for an undisclosed sum brings three showrooms located in the north-east of England into the Arnold Clark fold. No redundancies are planned within Patterson's 370-strong workforce.

Newcastle-based Patterson has facilities in its home city, as well as Hexham and Shiremoor, selling mainly Ford vehicles.

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Patterson's turnover last year topped 250m, placing it 84th in the Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 250 list of Britain's biggest mid-market companies.

According to its last set of full-year accounts, turnover at Arnold Clark rose 12 per cent in 2006 to a record 1.83bn, fuelled by a string of acquisitions. Pre-tax profits rose 23.4 per cent to 85.7m.

Founder and chairman Sir Arnold Clark said: "Patterson Motor Group is a firm with a wonderful reputation and has many synergies with our own business.

"We are looking forward to using the vast amount of experience of both businesses to create a formidable player in the north-east car market."

Clark, who was knighted in 2004 for his contribution to the motor industry and the Scottish community, opened his first showroom, in Glasgow, in 1954. The group - Europe's biggest independent car dealer - now has 145 branches across Scotland and central and northern England. Its total headcount is about 8,000.

Commenting on the deal, Patterson's managing director, Ashley Winter, said: "We are pleased to sell this very successful business to them. Arnold Clark has an excellent reputation and the business will prosper."

Patterson, formerly known as RH Patterson, was founded in 1911 as a general engineering business and went on to build the crane that lifted and helped join the two halves of the Tyne and Sydney Harbour bridges.

Arnold Clark's swoop on the company is the latest stage in an acquisitive period for the Scottish car giant, and comes amid widespread industry consolidation.

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Last year, Clark swallowed Glasgow-based Harry Fairbairn in a multi-million-pound deal, adding the BMW and Mini franchises to the group's portfolio. These dealerships continue to trade under the Fairbairn name.

At the time of March's full-year results, Clark noted that the record turnover and profitability came in spite of "some very difficult market conditions".

Other car dealers have warned of a showroom slowdown.