AutoNation Inc. is on a store-buying blitz that will make 2015 its biggest acquisition year since 1999 -- and it's not done yet.
With two deals announced last week, AutoNation is making forays into smaller markets and picking up momentum with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands. The nation's largest new-car retailer is buying 13 stores in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee from Carl Gregory Enterprises and three stores near Baltimore from Valley Motors Automotive Group.
Calling the overall acquisition environment "quite positive," AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told Automotive News, "There's quite a number of willing sellers out there."
AutoNation has several other deals under discussion, he said. While Jackson cautioned that it's never clear such discussions will reach the finish line, he added: "I would be surprised if we did not have another transaction before the year is over."
The 16 stores represent more than $600 million in estimated annual revenue and will bring AutoNation's U.S. store count to 253.
At more than $480 million in revenue, Carl Gregory will be AutoNation's biggest single acquisition since 2001. Carl Gregory stores sold approximately 16,750 new and used vehicles at retail last year. The group is No. 113 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. as ranked by new vehicles sold at retail in 2014.