The nation's 60 largest black-owned dealership groups got bigger last year, combining for $7.17 billion in revenue, a 21 percent increase from 2011, according to Black Enterprise magazine.
Despite the revenue growth, there is little chance that the number of black-owned dealerships will rise substantially anytime soon, the magazine's editorial director predicts.
"Over the last few years there has been a gradual, but steady, hemorrhaging of the number of black dealers," says Alan Hughes, who compiles the list for Black Enterprise.
"If I had to guess, I would say the number of dealerships will remain where they are. The top line revenue will wax and wane according to the economy and the state of the auto industry, but it would take something dramatically positive to see the total number of black dealerships significantly rise again."
Black Enterprise publishes its B.E. Auto Dealer list annually, ranking dealership groups on revenues for the previous year. It released the list on its Web site this month.
In 2009, the list was pared to 75 groups from 100 in 2008, after the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler and the recession took out many black-owned dealerships. In 2010, the list dropped to 60, where it has remained.
For the fourth straight year, RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings in Little Rock, Ark., tops the list with revenues of $1.15 billion in 2012, up 7 percent. RLJ McLarty Landers ranks No. 19 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups with retail sales of 21,895 new vehicles in 2012.
Nine of this year's top 10 groups on the Black Enterprise list also were in the top 10 last year. No. 2 March Hodge Automotive Group in Tampa, Fla., had revenues of $488.2 million, up 33 percent. It was No. 4 last year.
March Hodge also was named Black Enterprise B.E. Auto Dealer of the Year, Hughes says, based on its revenue increase and because it allows its dealership managers to buy equity stakes in the stores they manage. He adds: "Folks with skin in the game outperform folks that don't."