2020 ALL STAR | DEALER/PUBLIC
Asbury Automotive Group
David Hult has had a busy year.
Steering the nation’s seventh-biggest dealership group during the coronavirus pandemic, Hult lost — and won back — the largest acquisition deal in the company’s history. Hult and his team acted quickly to rightsize operations and produce record profits amid virus conditions.
Hult, 55, and his executive team shipped in masks from China for dealership employees and mandated safety protocols recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at all stores, regardless of state or local ordinances or individual political positions.
Asbury had agreed to purchase luxury Texas retailer Park Place Dealerships in a $1 billion deal last December, though concerns with the financing arrangements and mounting pressure from the pandemic dismantled the sale just days before it was slated to close.
The company worked quickly to gird itself against dwindling sales and service business — trimming staff, pivoting to online retailing and adding vehicle pickup and delivery for service to keep employees and customers safe.
As demand returned and profits soared, Asbury finalized the Park Place purchase in August in a deal valued at $735 million. Even though some stores were left out of the new deal and it didn’t include the land stores are on, the acquisition is one of the most expensive in the industry in a decade. It will add an expected $1.7 billion in annual revenue for the public group.
Asbury also is preparing to launch a new digital retailing platform, called Clicklane, before the end of the year to create further efficiencies and deliver a more positive customer experience.