IT’S ONE of the biggest deals in region’s motoring history, creating a £1 billion dealership.

The Hendy Group, one of the south’s best known car dealers has taken over big name rivals, the Wiltshire-based Westover Group.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, sees Hendy, which has its HQ in Chandler’s Ford, become a £1billion turnover company with 2,000 employees and a network of outlets stretching from Exeter to Eastbourne.

The acquisition means Hendy Group now operates 26 franchises from 83 outlets - making it one of the UK’s largest dealer networks – and reinforces the group’s presence in Dorset and Wiltshire.

Hendy chief executive Paul Hendy said the acquisition was a key milestone for the company, which celebrates its 160th anniversary this year.

“Westover is a hugely successful group and shares our philosophy of delivering a premium service and putting the customer and its employees at the heart of operations,” said Paul.

The Westover Group, founded in 1923 as a Morris dealer, employed more than 725 people and represented 15 vehicle manufacturers .

The firm had just completed its £15 million Jaguar Land Rover showroom in Christchurch.

Westover chairman Peter Wood said: “After more than 50 years in the motor industry I have decided that it is time to bow out. Westover has been my passion now for more than 40 years and to find a suitable company to hand it over to which has the same ethos of looking after its staff and customers has not been easy.

“We believe that in Hendy we have found that, and from the beginning of my discussions with Paul Hendy it became clear that the manner and way we operate our businesses is very similar. “

Peter started as a sales director with the company in the 1970s and led a management buy-out in 1984, when Westover was Austin Rover dealership with just two showrooms and 80 employees.

As part of the new structure Paul Dillon will continue as managing director of Westover, and the company name will be retained for the immediate future.

This latest deal comes on hard on the heels of Hendy opening its new FordStore – believed to be the largest in Europe– in Leigh Road, Eastleigh in February and a new triple showroom in Villeneuve Way, selling Mazdas, Hondas and Kias.

At the end of 2018 Hendy announced that it had acquired the Seward Group, which had two dealerships in Portsmouth and Havant.

Paul said he was delighted to add the Westover Group to the Hendy portfolio. “Our investments and acquisitions in the last few years have put us in an extremely good position for the future and the integration of Westover will strengthen this position still further as we continue to look to the future.”