Charles Hurst to open new luxury Jaguar Land Rover car base in Belfast
Car dealer Charles Hurst is set to build a major new multi-million pound Jaguar Land Rover dealership in south Belfast at the former headquarters of drinks giant Diageo to meet rocketing demand for the luxury car brands, it can be revealed.
The motoring dealership giant looks set to spend millions on the new development, which will sit on the Boucher Road, close to its other sites. A spokesman for Charles Hurst confirmed that it had submitted a full planning application for a new motor trade dealership and associated workshop at an existing site.
"As Northern Ireland's leading car retailer and aftersales groups, Charles Hurst has invested significantly in its flagship Boucher Road site and has further exciting and ambitious plans for the future. Representing some of the world's most prestigious car brands, we are always looking at ways to enhance the experience of customers and we hope that the vision which we have outlined for the site will be well received."
Sales of Land Rover - whose vehicles are favoured by none other The Queen - rose by almost a third last month right across the UK, based on the same period in August 2014.
But more startling, luxury saloon and sportscar company Jaguar has more than tripled its sales in the same period.
It saw more than 800 cars power out of showrooms across the UK last month - up from just 276 a year earlier.
The new site will be split into two main areas, including a major showroom for both brands, along with an aftersales area. Charles Hurst currently operates a Land Rover showroom on the Boucher Road.
It's all being designed by Taylor Design architects, which has produced a comprehensive planning proposal.
And it's been described as an "efficient solution to facilitate the accommodation required by Charles Hurst while conforming to the corporate identity of Jaguar Land Rover".
It will feature grey metallic cladding on the exterior, alongside frameless glazing.
The new flagship garage will sit across from Charles Hurst's main motor trade retail site. It deals in a variety of big name brands, including Vauxhall and Toyota.
Charles Hurst is one of Northern Ireland's biggest car retailers, and earlier this year announced a 45% jump in pre-tax profits to over £8.7m for 2014.
The company, which has 11 outlets in the province including tyre outlets as well as car franchises, said it had been helped by recovery in new and used cars markets. Its results come despite post-downturn sales of new cars in Northern Ireland continuing to slump behind the UK, though Charles Hurst's used car arm remains strong.
Turnover at the company was up 13.2% to £448.2m in the year to December 31, 2014. That's up from £396m the year before. In its annual report, it said the good times should continue.
And Charles Hurst's parent company Lookers cheered the City earlier this month after it snapped up privately-owned Benfield Motor Group for £87.5m.