Published: 08:58, 15 October 2021
| Updated: 15:30, 15 October 2021
A car dealership group founded in Kent almost half-a-century ago has been sold for £64.5m.
Motorline, which has its headquarters in Canterbury and showrooms across the county, has been snapped up by Marshall Motor Group.
About 1,500 employees will continue to work under its new owners.
The sale, which has been eight months in the making, brings to an end the Obee family's ownership of the group.
Motorline was founded in 1972 by Tom Obee and has been more recently run by his sons, Gary, Glen and Thomas. It has expanded over the years to become one of the biggest motor groups in the south east and south west, and has dealerships in Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone, Dartford, Gillingham and Tunbridge Wells.
The franchises, which will now be rebranded as Marshall, include Volkswagen, Lexus, Hyundai, Peugeot, ŠKODA, Nissan, Maserati, Toyota and Audi.
Marshall CEO Gupta said: "We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Motorline in line with our strategy which includes growing both further scale with existing brand partners and developing scaled relationships with selected new brand partners.
"Motorline is an extremely well-respected, long-standing business. The Obee family have overseen a significant expansion of the business in recent years and have invested in a market-leading property portfolio.
"The acquisition has been funded from existing cash resources and is expected to generate attractive financial returns for our group.
"I would like to welcome our 1,500 new Motorline colleagues to the group. I look forward to meeting you soon and to working with you over the coming years."
Separately Marshall acquired freehold property for £2.9m and has the option to buy two additional freehold properties for £24.9m.
Glen Obee, who was chairman of Motorline until its sale, said: “Following a period of almost 50 years, from when our father founded Motorline in 1972, and having worked within our family business for over 40 years, my brother Thomas and I have decided to retire from the industry that we have enjoyed working within throughout our careers.
"We would like to pay tribute to the hard work and commitment of our employees and to our brand partners for their support and contribution to the outstanding success Motorline has been able to achieve."
In 2019 Motorline made £6.96m profit on a turnover of £717m.