MORE than 100 jobs have been saved at five Edinburgh car dealerships following their sale out of administration.

Gateshead-based Vertu Motors and Swindon-based Cambria Automobiles – whose investors include the family of the late Bank of Scotland Governor Sir Peter Burt – have acquired the Edinburgh dealerships of Leven Cars Group, which fell into administration on 8 January.

The sales safeguard 101 of the 139 jobs at Leven, which is based in Edinburgh.

“We tried to buy the business six years ago it when it was Murray Motor Company, but it didn’t quite work out,” said Cambria chief executive Mark Lavery. “Sir Peter is no longer with us, but his family still hold a substantial stake in Cambria, and we’ve been trying to break into Edinburgh and Scotland for a long time. When this opportunity came up, it was too good to miss.”

Cambria has acquired Leven’s Rolls Royce and Aston Martin businesses, which operate from Corstorphine Road and Bankhead Drive, in Edinburgh.

“The high luxury end of the market doesn’t tend to feel it when the economy dips,” Mr Lavery said.

“People keep buying at the top end, and it’s very much based on the latest model and latest car. Aston Martin is bringing out a four-wheel drive called DBX and the order bank in Edinburgh is bursting.”

Aim-listed Cambria is paying £1.6m in cash, funded from the Group’s existing resources, for the two dealerships. It is Cambria’s first Rolls-Royce dealership, and fourth Aston Martin dealership alongside Hatfield in Hertfordshire, Brentwood in London and Birmingham.

Despite the business failure leading to administration, Cambria expects the acquisition to be earnings neutral in the first full year of ownership, the year ending 31 August 2020.

Vertu, an AIM-listed consolidator of UK motor retailers, has acquired Leven’s Kia, Suzuki and Mitsubishi dealerships, which are located on Edinburgh’s Bankhead Drive.

The deal expands Vertu’s Macklin Motors brand, which has been trading in Scotland since 2010, and complements the existing nine outlets in Scotland, comprising the Nissan, Ford, Mazda, Peugeot and Hyundai brands.

“The addition of these outlets augments the group’s representation in Scotland under the Macklin Motors brand and expands our operational footprint in Scotland,” said Vertu chief executive Robert Forrester. “In the process, we have also secured over 50 jobs which were under threat.”

Mr Forrester, who qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen and founded the business in 2006, said the deal goes to the heart of the group’s strategy of growing a “significantly scaled” franchised dealership group and to generate increased cashflows and returns for shareholders in the medium term.

Vertu plans to build a new multi-franchise dealership on land it already owns in Edinburgh within the next two years.

Combined management accounts for the Kia, Suzuki and Mitsubishi dealerships show pre-acquisition revenues of around £27m and a significant trading loss. Vertu said manufacturer support had been received for the transaction and a short-term lease agreed on the current premises.

The company expects the acquisition to contribute a small loss in the first full year of ownership to end February 2021, and to be earnings enhancing thereafter.

Joint Administrators of Leven Cars Group, Stuart Robb and Michelle Elliot of Leonard Curtis Business Rescue & Recovery in Glasgow, said: “Being able to secure a sale and save so many jobs in such a short timescale is testament to everyone involved, in particular the employees, who have been extremely patient and understanding throughout the sale process.”

The administrators were not able to save Leven’s Kia and Suzuki dealerships in Selkirk, which closed last week with the loss of 23 jobs and said they would continue to ensure employees affected by redundancy receive the best support possible.