JOE O'Donnell has sold his Shields Automotive business in south Glasgow to major listed player Lookers for £8.8 million.

Mr O'Donnell, 58, said he had wanted to sell to a company which would look after his 35 staff, many of whom have been there for more than 10 years.

He said: "My family weren't coming into the business, we divested the volume businesses and kept the properties, and we have come back to our core Land Rover franchise which is performing very strongly."

For Manchester-based Lookers, the move follows last year's capture of Lomond Audi, expanding its reach across central Scotland.

The group already owns Taggarts, in Motherwell and Glasgow, which it acquired in 2003. It runs franchises for Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo, Hyundai, Nissan and Peugeot.

Mr O'Donnell created the business 19 years ago and had expanded it by 2009 to three sites and six franchises. When the downturn came, he sold off the Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Peugeot franchises in 2010 for £2.5m to Newcastle-based Vertu (operating in Scotland as Macklin Motors).

In 2011, Mr O'Donnell disposed of the group's Toyota dealership to Arnold Clark, leaving Shields to concentrate on its original site in Darnley selling only for Land Rover.

Mr O'Donnell said profits in the year to date were up 60% on last year, when the group shrunk its turnover but doubled pre-tax profit to £351,000.

He added: "I was determined to leave a strong and robust business and I stuck through it to that end. I have got a very good staff and it was crucial to me to make sure these people were able to secure their future with a very strong company."

He said the Lookers top management had been known to him for all of his 27 years in the industry, and there had been occasional conversations about a sale in the past which had recently been "updated".

Andy Bruce, the Scottish-born chief operating officer of Lookers, said: "We have long admired the Shields Land Rover business. Joe O'Donnell - was keen that his business was sold to a new owner which would continue to invest in the future development of his staff.

"Scotland is a very important market for Lookers."