By Roger Brown
Over the years Imperial Commercials became one of the best known commercial vehicle dealer groups UK, operating a string of dealerships.
The company is perhaps best known for being the largest DAF dealer group in the UK and Europe, with three MAN dealer and service points, as well as a network of Ford, VW, Isuzu, Fiat and LDV van and light commercials sites also in its portfolio. Sales for the overall operation in 2018 totaled over 7,500 new and used vehicles.
However, reflecting the fact it is now a division of Motus Group (UK), itself a subsidiary of South African company Motus Holdings, Imperial has now rebranded to become Motus Commercials. Motus Holdings, which has interests in the automotive sector, turns over close to £4.5 billion and employs about 18,300 people across its operations in South Africa, the UK and Australia.
Motus Commercials managing director, Matt Lawrenson, (pictured below)said: “We know people had grown used to the Imperial trading title over the years and quite rightly trusted it, so I want to reassure customers and suppliers alike that this is simply a change of name, nothing else. We will still be focussed 100% on supporting our manufacturers and the thousands of operators who rely on us for new and used vehicle sales, along with the comprehensive service and parts infrastructure that supports those.”
In a statement of its growth intentions, Motus Commercials recently acquired the business interests of the four DAF dealerships of F&G Commercials at Manchester, Barnsley, Huddersfield and Oldham, along with a commercial body-building operation and a vehicle repair centre. The dealer group was founded by Frank Woodhead and his business partner Glenn Stevenson 24 years ago.
Woodhead said: “It was not an easy decision to sell the business after so many years, but I do so with complete confidence in Motus to maintain the spirit of customer service that we had always fostered. Business has changed over the years, and, in these days of ever-larger organisations, I am sure Motus will look to channel and even enhance that spirit to the benefit of customers and staff alike. I wish them all well.”
Lawrenson said the acquisition was a carefully thought-out decision, influenced by its knowledge of the DAF product and its strong relationship with the manufacturer over many years. He explained: “We will be focussed 100% on supporting past, present and future customers with new and used vehicle sales, as well as comprehensive service and parts back-up. We are fortunate to have some great people across all six sites, and I am delighted to confirm that the dealership and repair centre teams have now transferred into the new Motus Commercials operations.
“Thanks to them and my own Motus Commercials teams, the businesses will operate smoothly throughout the change-over. The body-builder team has also moved, in this case to our sister division, Motus Vehicle Solutions – under the direction of my colleague Peter Glover, where it joins two already highly successful, existing body-building operations.”
The deal gives Motus Commercials 29 sites across the country and Group CEO, Rob Truscott said: “We are very comfortable with our DAF involvement, as this acquisition shows. We have a clear, well-established strategy of seeking out opportunities to expand our group business: we are committed to growth. Not growth at any price, but growth where we see real opportunity at sensible investment levels. The acquisition of these six important sites delivers on this for us and will now do so for customers.”
BRAND NEW SITE
Motus Commercials has also unveiled a brand new £5m truck and LCV site in Gloucester. The three-acre facility on Spinnaker Road is 1.5 miles from the company’s current location on Mercia Road and just minutes from the main A40 and M5 arterial routes.
All staff from the earlier site have transferred to the new facility. Lawrenson, said, “We have developed strong relationships over the years with DAF operators and others in the area, as well as with the manufacturer, and this new site is a clear statement of intent from us.
“We might be the biggest DAF dealer group in Europe already, but we are not resting on our laurels. Wherever it is sensible to do so, we will look to grow and develop our DAF footprint in the UK. Our team in Mercia Road has delivered exceptional levels of service on a consistent basis year after year, and they are the ones who have made this development possible.”
The new Gloucester site, which will cater for both Motus Commercials’ DAF and Fiat Professional brands, includes a workshop with nine truck bays, which features a drive through inspection bay, ADR bay and fully equipped tacho bay.
TOP CLASS FACILITIES
In addition, there are four LCV bays, an MoT bay for Class IV, V and VII vehicles and a modern office facility finished in DAF’s new brand identity – the first time this will be used in the UK. Daniel Fitzjohn, Regional Director for Motus Commercials Western and Birmingham regions, said: “We’ve been looking forward to beginning operations at Spinnaker Road. The high standards set to date by the Mercia Road team give us the perfect platform for a bright future for Motus Commercials in the region.
“Now it’s all about raising our support levels to even greater heights, especially as our working hours will extend to incorporate a 24-hour operation, four nights per week. Local operators can look forward to a seamless transition to Spinnaker Road as we move ahead.”
Truscott concluded: “Following our recent acquisition of the F&G Commercials business, this is a further clear commitment to our relationship with DAF Trucks and the UK transport sector.”