New owners for Drake and Fletcher

John and Geoffrey Fletcher at the dealership. Picture: Matthew Reading
John and Geoffrey Fletcher at the dealership. Picture: Matthew Reading

by business editor Trevor Sturgess

Drake and Fletcher, a familiar name in cars and farm machinery for more than a century, has new owners.

John and Geoffrey Fletcher, great grandsons of the founder, have sold the family-run Honda and Mazda car dealerships in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells to Cambria Automobiles Holdings for an undisclosed sum.

All 70 staff have been transferred to Cambria which already owns Invicta of Canterbury, Ashford, and Thanet Ford. Cambria is expected to re-brand the dealerships under the Invicta name.

Managing director John Fletcher, 57, said the firm would be in good hands.

He said: "It protects the interests of our customers and staff and will enable the business to continue to thrive," he said. "I believe Cambria are a great company and represent the core values of integrity and fair dealing that we hold dear."

He added: "Without our fantastic team here at D&F we would not have had the great success we have enjoyed over many years, so it was very important to us to secure their future. I know they will prosper with Cambria."

Geoffrey, 54, said that none of their five children was interested in joining the business, and with the downturn making it tougher for the motor trade, it was the right time to sell.

"We have very mixed feelings but are glad that the business will remain strong." The D&F name will continue as a property company.

D&F is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the county and traces its origins back to 1898 when Alfred Fletcher became a partner in the then sewing machine repair shop in Maidstone.

Alfred's grandson Geoffrey (Senior) took over the reins in 1946, retiring as chairman in 2005 after 60 years with the company. His sons John and Geoffrey followed in his footsteps, joining the business in 1978 and 1982 respectively.

Over the years, it has represented other leading car marques such as Vauxhall, Bedford, Jaguar and Mercedes Benz.

In 1953, it was awarded the Queen's Royal Warrant for its spraying machinery. The farm machinery business was sold in 1999 and the horticultural division in 2009.

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