AutoNation to buy 4 luxury dealerships in Seattle market
AutoNation Inc. is expanding its footprint in the Pacific Northwest by buying four luxury-brand dealerships in the Seattle market that generate more than $350 million in annual revenue.
AutoNation, the country’s largest dealership group, announced today that it has signed agreements to buy Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche and Volvo stores in Bellevue, Wash., from Barrier Motors Auto Group. Together, the stores are on track to sell more than 5,500 new and used vehicles and generate $355 million in revenue in 2014. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter after clearing manufacturer approvals and satisfying other customary terms and conditions.
The transaction will give AutoNation 22 franchises in Washington state, including 13 in the Seattle metro area.
“We are pleased to be adding the Barrier Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo stores to our Seattle-Bellevue platform,” AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said in a statement. “The Barrier stores have a great reputation in the market. The franchises are in attractive automotive retail locations, and the facilities are first class.”
AutoNation already has a BMW store in the Seattle area. The additional luxury brands “will greatly enhance our brand mix” in the market, Jackson added. “The product cycles from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are some of the most exciting in the industry.”
About 300 employees at the Barrier store will join AutoNation.
Seller Jimmy Barrier credited those employees for their role in building the dealership group. Ensuring job security for them was a top priority for Barrier when he decided two years ago to pursue selling the dealerships. He recalled bringing in his own top managers when he acquired stores in the past.
“And I didn’t want that to happen to my people. I have great people here,” said Barrier, 72, who will retire from the auto business when the sale is complete.
Nearly 100 Barrier employees have been with the company for more than 10 years, and some of them for almost 30. Barrier opened the Mercedes-Benz store in Bellevue in 1985 after moving from his home town in Charlotte, N.C., where he had been a partner in a dealership.
With AutoNation, “the cultural fit is great,” Barrier told Automotive News. “They take care of their people.”
The deal is AutoNation’s second acquisition of 2014 and follows its purchase of Roundtree Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Mobile, Ala., earlier this summer. It is AutoNation’s biggest deal in terms of annual revenue since December 2012 when the company purchased five stores from Boardwalk Auto Group in Dallas.
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