Private importer to take over Citroën’s Irish arm

UK independent auto importer IM Group is to take over the French car brand’s Irish operations

Citroën’s Irish operation is to be taken over by independent UK car distributor IM Group.

The sale of Citroën Motors Ireland, which will be completed formally on October 1st, marks a U-turn by the French car firm and bucks a trend in the Irish motor sector over the last decade, where car firms have replaced private Irish importers with wholly-owned subsidiaries.

In November 2009, Citroën took over direct control of its Irish business from local distributor Gowan Group. The move came in the wake of a significant slump in sales and a price-fixing investigation by the Competition Authority. This led to the conviction of several dealers who were members of the Citroën Dealers' Association.

The parent company, however, has failed to achieve the same level of success in Ireland as it has elsewhere in Europe. It has never exceeded a market share of 1.6 per cent in terms of new passenger car sales. So far this year it holds a 1.47 per cent share of new car sales and a 5.7 per cent share of the light commercial vehicle market.


According to Pedro Regalado, the recently appointed managing director of Citroën Motors Ireland: "Across Europe, we have a market share of 5.5 per cent [in total for vans and cars] and we believe we should be aiming to get a [combined] 5 per cent share here in Ireland."

Focus and efficiency

Explaining the reasons for the sale, he said: “We see from other similarly sized national markets that a local distributor, investing their own money, can bring more focus and efficiency to the market. You have to realise that, in large multinationals like Citroën and its parent PSA, the focus is often on bigger markets, whereas for a local distributor this is their core business.”

All current head office staff will transfer to the new group along with the group's wholly-owned dealership in Airside retail park in Swords, Co Dublin. The price of the deal is undisclosed. Citroën has a network of 22 franchise dealerships in Ireland, along with a further four aftersales service-only centres. IM Group was founded in 1976 from the remnants of the Jensen Motor Company by Lord Edmiston, who remains chairman of the firm. It holds the Irish franchise for Japanese brand Subaru and Chinese newcomer Great Wall.

In Britain it has franchises for both of these brands, along with Isuzu. It also holds franchises for car brands in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Baltic states.

Within the IM Group there is also a property investment division, with properties in Britain, Germany and the United States. Accounts for 2014 showed a turnover of £471.6 million with an operating profit of £60.29 million, from which the group made a charitable donation of a £23.4 million investment property to Christian Vision, a charity set up by Lord Edmiston.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times