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Charles Hurst's firm Lookers buys group for £87.5m

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Charles Hurst parent company Lookers cheered the City yesterday after it picked up the keys to 30 more showrooms by snapping up privately-owned Benfield Motor Group for £87.5mn.

Shares rose 9% after Manchester-based Lookers announced the deal to buy Benfield's owner Addison Motors, boosting its presence in the north east of England.

Benfield, founded in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1957, has 1,600 employees at showrooms across northern England and in Scotland. It reported pre-tax profits of £7m on revenues of £699.7m for 2014.

Lookers, which has owned Charles Hurst since 1996, said the cash deal, funded by new banking facilities, was expected to provide an immediate boost to earnings.

Chief executive Andy Bruce said: "We are delighted to have acquired this respected and long-established family business. A key attraction for us is the cultural fit.

"Both Lookers and Benfield share an approach which puts employees at the heart of our business and this acquisition will ensure that continues."

Lookers - founded in Manchester by John Looker in 1908 and originally a bicycle and parts shop - employed around 6,000 people at the end of last year. It already has more than 120 dealerships.

The firm, which also sells parts and servicing, includes Taggarts showrooms in Scotland and Charles Hurst in Northern Ireland. Last month it reported a seventh successive year of improved earnings as half-year pre-tax profits rose 6% to £39.9m.

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