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Keith Thornton

AP EAGERS has bought the Kia and Mitsubishi franchises from Toowoomba Motor Group to build on its dominance with seven new-car franchises along a 100m strip of the town’s main street.

It is the third move into Toowoomba after 2014 when AP Eagers bought the Black Group and then, in 2016, repurchased the Crampton Automotive Group that included Holden and HSV franchises that AP Eagers had previously sold to Mark Crampton in 1993.

Toowoomba Motor Group (TMG) is majority owned by the Pickering Auto Group that bought Len Patti Motors in 2016 and changed the name to TMG.

Pickering Auto Group CEO Brendan Pickering said it was a mutually agreeable deal.

“The deal now allows us to focus on growth in our existing footprints,” he said.

Toowoomba Kia will join Toowoomba Holden, while Toowoomba Mitsubishi will be housed on the same site as West-Star Motors.

AP Eagers chief operating officer Keith Thornton told GoAutoNews Premium that the purchase of TMG’s Mitsubishi and Kia franchises gives the company better business scale “which is one of the things we are always looking for”.

“It wasn’t solely a geographic-driven decision,” he said.

“It’s not about us sitting at a map and saying ‘where should we be?’. It’s about looking at business opportunities as they present and then we look at location, growth corridors, franchises’ held, past performance and so on.

“The opportunities usually come to us and then we assess them on their merits rather than us knocking on doors.

“The opportunity to buy Mitsubishi and Kia was attractive in its own right but it’s adding additional scale to our existing businesses that we need.

“The Holden business we bought off Mark Crampton occupies a big site. We also have excess capacity in our West-Star premises which includes Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai franchises.

Toowoomba Mitsubishi

“The opportunity to pick up Mitsubishi and Kia and put those in the existing and excess premises is what made this so compelling.”

Mr Thornton said that the existing Mitsubishi business will move to the West-Star operation in the town’s main avenue, James Street, while Kia will relocate to the Holden site.

“We have bought some of the land holdings of Pickerings (TMG) in the deal,” he said.

“The plan is to move the two franchises onto property that we now operate from and then we will deal separately with the land we purchased.”

Mr Thornton said Toowoomba was a substantial regional town and added, “we are very positive about regional Queensland”.

“This is the third example in the past 18 months where we are restructuring our representation to improve the outcome,” he said.

“For example, it made sense for us to recently sell Holden to the von Bibra group because they had excess land and buildings and Holden was a good addition to their business.

“We have done a buy-sell with Paul Norris and The Norris Motor Group where we recently sold Kia and bought Nissan because it made more sense for him to own Kia and for us to own Nissan, specifically in this PMA due to other representation we both held.

“This is the third example where we are dealing with a large automotive group to restructure what makes sense for both parties.”

AP Eagers adds Mitsubishi and Kia to its other showrooms: Toowoomba Holden, West-Star Mercedes-Benz, West-Star Hyundai, West-Star Peugeot and West-Star Citroen along with Zooper Cars and Cheap Cars Toowoomba.

By Neil Dowling

Toowoomba Kia