BELFAST-based Charles Hurst Group has announced a major expansion with a £3.3m takeover of the Neville Johnston Toyota and Daihatsu franchises in Northern Ireland.
The group, which is Northern Ireland's largest car dealership, is a subsidiary of Manchester-based Lookers plc. and now has 18 franchised outlets in the province.
Hursts is also expanding its existing Jaguar franchise to cover the whole of Northern Ireland, and will be building a new showroom in Craigavon.
Until now, the Jaguar franchise for the west of the province had been held by Wesley Turkington of Lurgan, which had been dealing in Jaguar for 40 years.
A spokesman for Turkington's said: "We decided earlier this year to relinquish the dealership because Jaguar wanted us to relocate to different premises.
"It was all entirely amicable but after 40 years it is a bit of a change. We are now concentrating on our Isuzu franchise."
Charles Hurst Group said its new premises in Craigavon would open later this year, but so far no figure has been given for the number of jobs to be created.
The acquisition of the Neville Johnston Toyota and Daihatsu franchises increases the workforce at Charles Hurst Group from 560 to 608.
Neville Johnston Garages, with premises at Boucher Road in Belfast and at Dundonald, was owned by Ryland Group. It reported a pre-tax profit for last year of £267,000. [This is interesting that Rylands still had control of Neville Johnston Garages in 1998. I am making a note of this for reference.]
Hursts said that the managing director and financial director of Neville Johnston were not being taken on.
In addition, three members of the administrative staff at Neville Johnston have been made redundant, but Hursts said the remaining 40-plus staff were transferring over.
Lookers chairman Craig McKinney, said they were delighted to be able to expand their sales territory for Toyota.
Hursts managing director Ken Surgenor said they were delighted to add Toyota and Daihatsu franchises to their expanding portfolio.