ONE of the North-East’s longest-established car companies has launched a new era following the multi-million-pound acquisitions of two prominent family businesses.

Sherwoods has announced the purchase of Springfield Motor Group – incorporating Peugeot, Citroen and Suzuki franchises at Gateshead – alongside Durham Peugeot.

The businesses will be rebranded as Sherwoods Gateshead and Sherwoods Durham, with partners describing the deal as the “first chapter” in the creation of a Sherwoods group of motor dealers across the region.

Sherwoods, which was established as a family business in the 1920s, sold its Vauxhall sites in Darlington, Stockton and Northallerton to the Drive Group last September.

Sherwoods managing director Simon MacConachie promised at the time that the long-established company name would live on with investments made in other businesses.

He said today: “We are delighted to have fulfilled that pledge by acquiring two cracking businesses, and working with great manufacturing partners, in superb locations in the North-East.”

The deal also includes a large mechanical workshop, bodyshop and used car outlet on Washington’s Crowther Industrial Estate, which will be run as a separate business called Sherwoods Car Store.

The combined business expects to have a turnover of £65m a year and secures the jobs of 120 employees.

Mr MacConachie said: “This is the first chapter – we would love to work with other brands, and discussions about further opportunities are continuing. We would particularly like to return the Sherwoods name to the south of the region where we are so well known.

“This is an exciting time to be involved with Peugeot because they are at a high point in the cycle of their product range, and their attitude towards the dealer network is impressive.”

Peugeot recently came top in the famous JD Power survey of owners for being the most reliable brand.

Mr MacConachie is also thrilled to be working with Suzuki and Citroen as an integral part of the new business.

He said: “Suzuki are renowned for their reliability and the ‘family feel’ they like their customers to experience. This fits perfectly with our family business culture. Citroen has also got some exciting products coming through and we are excited to be working with them for the first time.”

Durham Peugeot, based at Durham City Retail Park, was purchased from Richard Hardie Ltd on February 1 but no formal announcement was made while talks with Ron Price over the potential purchase of Springfield Peugeot were continuing. That deal has now gone through with Mr MacConachie describing the two acquisitions in adjoining parts of the region as “a perfect fit”.

Mr MacConachie is joined in the business by three partners: his father Alasdair MacConachie as director and investor; Chris Elvidge as chairman; and Kevin Smith as Finance Director.

Mr MacConachie senior, who developed the Sherwoods brand over 37 years, said: “Selling the Vauxhall business was an extremely emotional time, but I couldn’t be happier at the outcome because the name will live on in some exceptional businesses that share the Sherwoods’ family values.”

Mr Elvidge has spent more than 30 years in the motor industry and has extensive experience of acquisitions. Mr Smith has been in the trade for more than 20 years and joined Sherwoods as Finance Director in April last year.

Mr Elvidge said: “I’ve been involved in 30-plus acquisitions but this is undoubtedly one of the best. It is part of the process of growing a regional group and we are looking for further opportunities.

“We would especially like to thank Ron Price who has done such a tremendous job in building the reputation of the Springfield dealership over more than 30 years. He wanted it to be passed on to a business with a family culture and we are thrilled that the same, familiar, friendly staff will be staying with us.

“Our aim is to build on solid foundations, so we are always interested in hearing from sales people or technicians who want to join our team in what will be an exciting future.”