Publicly traded dealership groups collectively bought more than 200 franchised stores in the U.S. in 2021, leading a surge in deal-making across the auto retail sector.
The publics — the six major groups, plus fledgling retailer LMP Automotive Holdings — acquired 222 dealerships in the U.S. last year in 42 separate transactions, according to Automotive News, which tracked and analyzed buy-sell deals across the industry in 2021. The publics accounted for 11 percent of all transactions and 31 percent of all franchised stores bought last year. Automotive News doesn't have complete data to be able to generate comparable figures for 2020.
The publics' buying spree, which included several megadeals such as the December purchase of Larry H. Miller Dealerships by Asbury Automotive Group, is largely credited as being a main driver of the bustling buy-sell market and for a 2021 widely considered the biggest year for acquisitions in industry history.