THE new owner of Dorset’s Westover motor dealerships has insisted the car industry has a bright future despite recent challenges.

As previously reported, the Hendy Group bought the 96-year-old Westover Group in a deal that creates one of the biggest dealer networks in the country.

The sale, for an undisclosed sum, turns Hendy into a company with 2,000 staff and a turnover of £1billion.

New car registrations grew by 1.4 per cent in February following five consecutive months of decline. The industry has faced a series of challenges, including predictions that prices could rise by up to 10 per cent in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

But Paul Hendy, chief executive of the Hendy Group, said the figures underneath the headlines were more positive.

“Vauxhall are going through a massive reorganisation. If you look at the brands Westover represents, those brands are holding up and some of those brands increased their market share,” he said.

“Some of the German brands like Audi and Volkswagen –we don’t sell any German brands – they are under the pump for all manner of reasons.

“Our market’s held up and we grew share – particularly with commercial vehicles, we went up.”

He added: “On the manufacturing side, I think it’s being affected by all manner of things. In terms of Brexit, clearly that state of uncertainty is still there but we believe – and clearly it’s demonstrated by this acquisition – that the future still looks bright.

“We’re very positive about it and our business is doing great and we’re bringing these two fantastic businesses together. There’s a real positive energy about it.”

Hendy has said it will keep the Westover name “for the foreseeable future” after the acquisition for an undisclosed sum.

Established in 1923, the Westover Group operates from 28 locations across Dorset and Wiltshire and represents 15 vehicle manufacturers including Alfa Romeo Fiat, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Renault, Skoda and Toyota.

Mr Hendy said: “Their culture, their knowledge aligns with ours. We’re a strong family company.”

He said the acquisition offered more career opportunities for staff, with a network of 80 sites.

“When people come to work for us it’s a career, not just a job. This creates a programme for people where they can, should they wish to, create a career in the industry,” he said.

“What we can do is set about looking after the customer and also hopefully have a bit of fun along the way and enjoy ourselves because we spend a long time at work.”