If you frequent this website, chances are you’ve seen an article detailing how smaller car dealerships have been merged into larger entities over the past few years. As in most other industries, the trend is accelerating and Automotive News just shared the metrics showing how far we’ve come over the past decade. According to the report, consolidation among mega-dealers has made heaps of progress lately and is expected to continue its mission of endless growth, as none of them wants to become the little guy after every showroom of the pint size was purchased in the North. America.
“With the consolidation happening across all major automotive groups, we want to make sure we keep pace,” said Liza Borches, CEO of Carter Myers Automotive Group in Charlottesville, Va., at the outlet after her company. . the takeover of Miller Auto Group enhanced its visibility on Automotive News‘ The top 150 dealer groups currently operating in the United States.
While 2021 may not have been the biggest year for auto sales in terms of sheer volume, America’s largest dealer groups saw record profits and widespread buyouts from their less financially strong competitors.
The top 10 and top 150 groups now own more industry dealerships and are responsible for a greater share of the industry’s new vehicle sales.
Dealers who want to be competitive for the long term are realizing it’s time to “get big or get out,” said Alan Haig, president of Haig Partners, a buy-sell firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For the first time in many years, all six major state-owned dealership groups are acquiring stores, he said.
“Consolidators have capital,” Haig told Automotive News. “They have confidence, they have the support of their shareholders. They will continue to do business.
The top 150 groups in the United States had 4,138 stores, including a small but undetermined number of used-only, non-U.S. outlets, at the end of 2021, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center, which compiles the listing. This equates to 22.7% of the total number of Automotive News franchised dealerships in the United States, compared to 21.1% for 2020 and 13.9% for 2011. The top 10 groups had 1,565 stores at the end of 2021 , or an 8.6% share of all of the United States. dealerships and up from 7.1% for 2020 and 5.3% for 2011.
That’s a lot of progress in such a short time, and everyone seems to be convinced that buybacks will continue until the AutoNations and Penskes of the world hold the lion’s share of the market. But it’s not even a comprehensive data set, with several of the largest dealer groups choosing not to provide relevant information or being beholden to a reporting schedule that contradicted the study. A confirmed this by suggesting that the figures “actually underestimate the share of industry sales commanded by the top 10 and 150” companies in its reports.
“Dealer groups only report sales they have had during the year – but not sales made by an acquisition target before a transaction is finalized,” the outlet explained. “This means that vehicle sales recorded by acquired groups prior to transaction completion dates are not represented on the list.”
In some cases, all of this only changed the placement of groups of automobiles that happened to be the biggest dog in the yard. But it also helps mask just how massive some of these mega dealers are getting. While we have a good idea of which stores grew the most in 2021 – Asbury Automotive Group reportedly nabbed 71 showrooms last year, followed by Lithia Motors’ 69 new stores. Meanwhile, Sonic Automotive added 56, Group 1 Automotive acquired 35 lots, Penske Motor Group got 27, and AutoNation picked up 21.
With even some of the mid-sized groups vying to expand, lest they be destroyed by their larger competitors, no one expects this trend to cool down. Business consolidation has also accelerated in recent years, with pandemic restrictions making times tougher for small dealerships (among other businesses) despite the relief funds that have been earmarked to ensure something like this doesn’t happen. not produce. On the contrary, the industry seems to be expecting dealer takeovers to increase through 2022.
“We’re going to see a continued acceleration in consolidation and then the normal changing of hands of targets that aren’t really the typical consolidators,” suggested Mark Johnson, president of buy-sell firm MD Johnson in Enumclaw, WA. .
[Images: LM Photos/Shutterstock; Automotive News]
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