Car dealer sells up to supermarket after 40 years

Brundall Motor Company.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Brundall Motor Company.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A car dealer serving the local community in Brundall for almost 40 years has closed his doors to make way for a supermarket as he takes semi-retirement.

Brundall Motor Company.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Brundall Motor Company.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Chris Blyth has held the tiller of Brundall Motor Company for almost four decades, but has now sold up and will focus on selling high-end models working from home.

The old garage site, on The Street, has now changed hands to a developer looking to build a new supermarket in the village.

Commercial Development Projects submitted a planning application for a new retail store at the site last December, and are awaiting approval on the scheme.

Mr Blyth has not been told which retailer could move in to the site, but said the current economic climate has made family-run car dealerships unsustainable.

“I needed to retire because I was getting to that age,” he said. “It is difficult to sell garages because nobody wants to buy them, so we sold it to a development company who are looking to turn it into a supermarket as I understand it.

“I have been in the trade now since 1969, and I am still going to be selling cars, just to keep myself amused. I started out at the Norfolk Motor Company, as it was in those days. I helped start that company and did eight and a half years there, which was enough for me. “I am selling cars from home now, mainly top of the range or limited edition. At the moment I have a couple of the GP Minis in stock. I only have room for one or two at a time now because I don’t have the space for a forecourt. “Brundall Motor Company would always source cars for people, and we have built up a customer base of 13,000 to 14,000 people over the years, with a lot of repeat business.

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“If someone wants something specific, they can come to us. Initially it was called Brundall service station, which started up in 1976, I went there in 1978 and took over half the business, and we turned it into Brundall Motor Company in 1986.

“When we closed we only had three full time employees - my sales guy had taken early retirement, my workshop manager was semi-retired, and I had two mechanics who have now taken on new jobs.

“I will be just playing at it now, and I expect to take a holiday soon so the business will have to close temprarily then.

“The main thing is we are not tied into a forecourt or MOT servicing. We were a Ford-franchised dealer for 38 and a half years, but that is getting more difficult to sell any cars unless you are a big dealer shop group.

“The demands are so great on you the amount of outlay and what you have to put in every month is crazy at the moment. “These are family business which have often been around for years, but they can’t be that profitable these days unless they are tied to a dealer group.”