CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sonic Automotive Inc. is moving its Long Beach Mini store in California into its nearby Long Beach BMW dealership and plans to fold a second Mini franchise inside a new BMW store it expects to open late next year in Houston.
The nation's fifth-largest dealership group is believed to be among the first companies to integrate Mini sales into a BMW dealership after BMW of North America last year gave its Mini retailers who also had BMW stores that option. That significant move by BMW, which put a number of conditions on how retailers go about consolidating the Mini business into BMW stores, comes amid Mini's declining sales and a high number of unprofitable dealerships. Dealers representing 29 outlets have expressed interest in consolidating their Mini store into their BMW location or have begun the process, a Mini spokesman told Automotive News last month.
Mini spokesman Andrew Cutler confirmed that Mini reviewed and approved Sonic's plans. While Cutler said he was not able to say how many other dealerships are integrating Mini stores into BMW stores, he said the option is still open to Mini dealers. Mini has 122 dealerships in the U.S.
Sonic executives said they remain committed to the Mini brand. Sonic has eight Mini stores and 15 BMW dealerships nationally.