A NORTH EAST entrepreneur has driven away from the motor retail business he’s run for more than three decades after selling it to a national retailer.

The Hodgson Motor Group's Toyota, Mazda and Suzuki dealerships at the Metrocentre in Gateshead and Silverlink in Newcastle, have become part of the Doncaster-headquartered Stoneacre Motor Group.

Current managing director Steve Hodgson decided it was time to retire following two bouts of open heart surgery.

The entire 180-strong Hodgson workforce is being retained by Stoneacre, which intends to invest in continuing to grow its newly-acquired dealerships and represents 26 manufacturer partners in 59 locations.

Steve Hodgson joined what was his father’s motor repair and retail business from school in 1976 and led the group’s expansion into its first large purpose-built dealership at the Silverlink Retail Park in 1992, which was the initial stage of its development into a region-wide business with an annual turnover of around £80m.

Stoneacre Motor Group managing director Shaun Foweather said: "For over 30 years, Steve has operated a business in the Newcastle area and developed a great reputation with customers and has a very high level of staff loyalty.

"He is leaving the business in great shape and creates a fantastic opportunity for Stoneacre to grow it further."