Limburgian A & M Invest becomes the largest Belgian car group after acquiring stakes in Antwerp group Centrauto.
WIJNEGEM – The Limburg based group A & M Invest, owner of car dealers Delorge, Van Osch and JLR Hasselt, takes a minority stake in the Antwerp group Centrauto, dealer of the BMW and MINI brand. If the Belgian competition authorities give their approval, this transaction will create the largest car dealer group in Belgium, that sells nearly 20,000 cars per year.
The growth of Automotive & Mobility Invest, owned by its CEO Peter Guelinckx, has been remarkable. Formerly known in Limburg as a Volkswagen group dealer, they completed in October 2017 the takeover of the BMW and MINI dealer Van Osch. For the first time, the premium brands BMW and Audi will be sold by the same car holding. With the acquisition of Metropool Hasselt, dealer of the brands Jaguar and Land Rover, in September 2018 A & M Invest added another jewel to its crown.
However, this did not satisfy the growth ambitions of Peter Guelinckx. Today, A & M Invest is taking an important step outside the Limburg provincial borders. If the authorities that watch over free competition give their approval, A & M Invest takes a minority stake in the Antwerp group Centrauto, the largest BMW and MINI dealer of the country.
Centrauto was founded in 1923 and is today managed by Alex Geurts and Philippe Van der Brempt, the only shareholders. Centrauto, like A & M Invest, has experienced strong growth in recent years. Today, Centrauto is the largest dealer of BMW and MINI in Belgium with a sale of about 6,000 new and second-hand cars.
The Centrauto group has dealerships in Wijnegem and Malle, and since October 2017 has been active in Limburg, since buying the Beckers concessions in Genk and Dilsen-Stokkem. Alex Geurts and Philippe Van der Brempt however, went to look for a partner for the concessions. “I am convinced the consolidation in our sector is not over yet,” says Alex Geurts. “In addition, we are both approaching our sixtieth birthday. So to ensure the future growth of our company, a partner was welcome.”
That potential partner was initially found abroad, but then the Limburg based group A & M Invest came along, and “It immediately clicked”, says Peter Guelinckx.
A & M Invest will initially take a minority stake of 49 per cent in Centrauto, with the intention to acquire 100% of the shares in a period of three years time. All managers remain on board in that period. “As a BMW dealer A & M Invest is still a rookie, so it seems sensible to wait a while longer before acquiring the majority.”
The newly formed group will immediately become the largest car dealer in the country, selling nearly 20,000 new and used cars. For this year a turnover of 700 million euros is expected, with 950 employees on the payroll.
A & M Invest not only invests in the largest BMW dealer in Belgium, but Centrauto is also one of the most acclaimed dealerships. According to Federauto, Centrauto is the fastest growing dealer In Belgium, but also the most ecological concession. Centrauto was even awarded one of the most ecological BMW dealerships worldwide.
“Thanks to this partnership, we will immediately benefit from the know-how of Centrauto,” says Peter Guelinckx. “While historically A&M has mainly grown sideways, while Centrauto also has grown in depth, with the focus on new mobility concepts.Centrauto unites reason and passion: offering mobility solutions combined with the passion for a beautiful product. ”