ONE of the North East’s longest-established motor companies has continued to expand with the acquisition of another successful family business.

Sherwoods Motor Group embarked on a new era in the summer of 2019 when it announced the purchase of Springfield Motor Group, incorporating Peugeot, Citroen and Suzuki franchises at Gateshead, alongside Durham Peugeot.

Now, Sherwoods, established in the 1920s, has taken over another successful business in the Citroen network – Town Centre Automobiles, in Sunderland – to strengthen its relationship with the Stellantis Group.

Sherwoods managing director, Simon MacConachie, said: “Town Centre Automobiles is a fantastic family-owned business of great pedigree, so we are thrilled to be able to bring it into the Sherwoods fold.

“It’s a successful business that’s recognised as having been a high performer in the Citroen network throughout its history. The family business culture is a natural fit for Sherwoods because both companies pride themselves on being a great place to work and providing the highest levels of customer service.”

The history of Town Centre Automobiles dates back to December 1977, with the opening of a showroom in Villiers Street, in the heart of Sunderland city centre.

Originally called Town Centre Garage Ltd, the business was founded by Sunderland born and bred brothers, Stephen and Philip Smith, and started out with just three employees.

Since then, it has become part of the Sunderland landscape, employing 26 members of staff. The “Town Centre” part of the name will live on because of the local strength of the brand, with the business now called Sherwoods Town Centre.

Mr MacConachie added: “The opportunity to grow our partnership with Citroen UK was a no-brainer, and keeping the name was key for us because it is a hugely trusted local brand, built over more than four decades.”

He paid tribute to founder and former owner Stephen Smith, describing him as a “stalwart of the brand for many years” and thanking him for his support throughout the acquisition process.

Mr Smith said: “Town Centre Automobiles has always adapted and evolved in order to grow and thrive through the challenges of the motor industry over its 45 years in Sunderland.

“The sale to Sherwoods Motor Group ensures that Town Centre can go on to face the coming challenges with agency models, electrification and suchlike, with confidence, as part of a regional group that has Stellantis brands at its core.

“Sherwoods were an ideal purchaser for me personally because of their family business culture, and their values being very much in line with our own.”

Sherwoods chairman Chris Elvidge said: “It’s great to announce that, due to the success of the existing Sherwoods businesses, we’ve been able to invest in our second Citroen franchise and our fourth site in County Durham and Tyne & Wear. The addition of another high-achieving family-owned business to the Sherwoods family is extremely exciting and will enhance the performance of the Group.”

He added that Sherwoods would seek to continue developing its relationship with the Stellantis Group.

With the transfer of the Town Centre Automobiles staff, Sherwoods now employs 161 people.