Two of the nation's largest publicly owned retailers are preparing to invest more in their businesses in 2014 than they did last year, according to numbers released with those companies' 2013 earnings reports.
Several other publicly owned groups haven't released their 2013 results or 2014 plans.
AutoNation Inc., the country's largest dealership group, is planning capital expenditures of $150 million or more this year, CEO Mike Jackson said. That would be a 6 percent increase from the $141 million AutoNation spent in 2013.
The $150 million-plus capital expenditure budget will be spent primarily on new or renovated dealership facilities, Jackson said. When it comes to prioritizing investment, "We always look at the existing business first," he told Automotive News.
AutoNation is renovating existing facilities, but it also is building dealerships for new franchises awarded by manufacturers. During 2013, for instance, AutoNation won additional Mercedes-Benz points in the Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., markets. Those stores are expected to open by early 2015.
Technology improvements also are on the agenda. AutoNation has said it would spend $50 million from 2013 through 2105 on digital efforts that include new dealership Web sites and a so-called digital storefront that is expected to cut transaction time and improve customers' shopping experiences.
Asbury Automotive Group Inc., the nation's seventh-largest dealership group, is planning capital expenditures of $60 million in 2014, up from $50 million in 2013.
About $45 million of Asbury's 2014 capital expenditure budget is allocated to annual spending on facilities and technology, Asbury CFO Keith Style said.
"A large majority of it is planned facilities," Style said. "We have a couple of new sites coming off the ground. And others are remodels and service bay extensions."
Another $5 million will cover relocations of recently acquired franchises.
That includes the acquisition announced last week of a Land Rover dealership in Greenville, S.C., that will add $20 million in annual revenues. Asbury will move the Land Rover business into its existing Jaguar dealership in that market and renovate the facility.
The final $10 million of Asbury's planned capital expenditures will go to prepare property already owned by the company for dealerships that will be moving out of leased facilities.