Hunts dealership to close, but Marshalls still prosper

IN spite of the impending closure of its Huntingdon Peugeot sales and service operation, the Cambridge-based Marshall Motor Group is expanding and growing, the company said this week. Against a background of a serious slump in car sales nationally and wor

IN spite of the impending closure of its Huntingdon Peugeot sales and service operation, the Cambridge-based Marshall Motor Group is expanding and growing, the company said this week.

Against a background of a serious slump in car sales nationally and worldwide, sales are ahead of last year and the group had been making acquisitions, business development director Christopher Walkinshaw told The Hunts Post.

But staff at the under-performing St Peter's Road dealership in Huntingdon have been told that some of their jobs are at risk, though Marshalls are confident of finding jobs at other dealerships or in the aviation business for most of those who are willing to move.

Franchise manager Graham Mundell said: "Huntingdon Peugeot has performed below expectations for some time and is surrounded by other, larger and more successful Marshall Peugeot dealerships within a small radius of Huntingdon.

"If it were to remain open, it would require significant investment, which cannot be justified, to meet dealership standards going forward. The sale of the St Peter's Road site will also free capital that can be invested in the upgrading of our facilities at other dealerships, including St Neots Peugeot, which occupies a prime location in that town."

The group stressed that the Huntingdon site, which has been operated by Marshalls since the 1960s and previously housed the company's Rover franchise in the town, would be the only one in the group to close, following an across-the-board review against a background of the UK new car market shrinking by almost one-third.

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Ironically, Huntingdonshire's economy has been one of the most resilient in Britain during the downturn.

Mr Walkinshaw said: "The first half of this year started very strongly. A lot of people still want to buy new cars, so it's about having a passion for it and working on customer satisfaction levels.

"Although many people are going for more economical cars, our Land Rover and Jaguar dealerships are among the best-performing in the group. The Government's scrappage scheme has also made a difference since it has been clarified. It's certainly bringing more people into the showrooms.

"Even though we are closing the St Peter's Road site, Huntingdonshire remains an important market for us," Mr Walkinshaw stressed.

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