Jobs are lost as ‘best dealership’ in the UK throws in the towel

CLOSING TIME Pooles Peugeot in Camp Road, Gosport, is to shut in May
CLOSING TIME Pooles Peugeot in Camp Road, Gosport, is to shut in May
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Picture: Paul Jacobs

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A POPULAR car dealership is closing with the loss of 25 jobs.

With no successors to the long-running family business, Pooles Peugeot in Camp Road, Gosport, will shut its doors in May.

The owners say that with nobody to take over from them they would not be able to guarantee its future.

Staff were told they would be made redundant after no outside buyers came forward.

The Gosport dealership was set up in 1981 and is the only surviving company of the Harbour Group, which was established in 1906 as a bike shop called Seal’s of Southsea.

With a looming deadline to sign up for a new long-term contract with Peugeot, its owners decided to cease trading.

Pooles chairman Roger Rees jointly owns Pooles Peugeot with a member of the Seal family.

He told The News a last-minute offer might halt the closure but said ‘the die has been cast’.

‘The reason for closing is that we, the owners, have nobody to take the business over and both of us have not enjoyed the best of health,’ the 73-year-old said.

‘We were going to have to make a long-term commitment.

‘We have nobody in our families who is in the business or is interested in taking it over. It is a very sad day.

‘We feel particularly sad for our loyal staff and for the customers who have been loyal over the years.

‘The one thing that has upset me more than anything else is the redundancy of staff who have been there for quite some time.

‘But we were going to have to sign on the dotted line for a new contract with Peugeot.

‘We don’t feel that with a combined age of over 150 we as owners could take it on and there aren’t a lot of people going around buying businesses at the moment.

‘If somebody was to come forward now they would have to move pretty quickly.

‘We have got to treat it as a business closing down.

‘But if there is any last-minute interest it could be explored.’

The Harbour Group closed in 2006 after 100 years of trading.

But as the best-performing company of the group, Pooles Peugeot remained open.

The company was recently voted by its customers as the best dealership in the country. It operates a car showroom, MoT centre and body shop.

Mr Rees added: ‘They voted us number one in the country so we’re leaving on a high.

‘But that doesn’t help the people who are going to be redundant.

‘We are a well-known local business and we are well-known for the high quality of staff we employ.’

The dealership is not scheduled to close until the end of May.