For much of the past seven years Asbury Automotive Group Inc. was largely absent from the dealership acquisition market until the retailer made two major splashes: the August 2020 purchase of eight Park Place Dealerships stores for $735 million and the pending $3.2 billion purchase of Larry H. Miller Dealerships, the country's eighth-largest new-vehicle retailer.
Asbury during those years mostly devoted its cash to buying back shares, paying down debt and investing in its digital retailing tool Clicklane, said Asbury CEO David Hult, who joined the auto retailer as COO in November 2014 and became chief executive in January 2018.
"We're not looking to buy revenue to grow. We're looking to find organizations that culturally align with us and philosophically as far as operations go," Hult told Automotive News this month. "We figure those garner the best results. They have the lowest turnover and best appreciation of the asset and relationship. Behind those transactions are a lot of people, [and] not culturally aligned from a business perspective, it's usually not a good outcome. So we try and be very disciplined."