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Evans Halshaw’s roots date back to the 1920s when William Lyons, the founder of the Swallow Sidecar Company (which became Jaguar Cars Limited after the Second World War) found PJ Evans in his search to find a place to sell his re-bodied version of the Austin 7.
Already being an established dealership in the Midlands, PJ Evans had the sales knowledge that William was looking for in order to sell his prestigious cars. Tragically the partnership was cut short with the death of PJ Evans. Evans was coming back from taking part in the French Touring Grand Prix when he died in an airplane crash. Evan’s children were not old enough to run the company, resulting in it being sold to one of Evan’s competitors Steeley and Rodway.
During the 1930s the company was doing well selling all the leading brands of the time such as: Austin, Bean, Daimler, Fiat, Morris, Rover and Sunbeam. As with all companies, the Second World War greatly impacted their business. Fortunately for the company, Rodway decided to shift focus of the business to the used car market as well as repairs and they managed to come through relatively unscathed.
That early partnership with “Mr Jaguar” Bill Lyons, meant that PJ Evans grew into the prestige market and the acquisition of Rolls Royce and Bentley followed as they expanded throughout the decades after the war. The growing size, along with the prestige names associated with the brand, allowed the company to have its shares listed on the Birmingham Stock Exchange and make further small acquisitions. The expansion and status of the company caught the attention of a financial backer which then enabled the acquisition of their first Ford dealership in 1977. Within two years, they had already added another 4 to the list.
Just a year later in 1978, Evans Halshaw was created when PJ Evans bought the Halshaw Group (Halifax Motor Company and Bradshaws Motor House). From that moment, Evans Halshaw saw even larger expansion and acquisitions in the 80s, including: two Peugeot outlets, two Lveco truck dealerships and three more Ford dealerships.
While many were suffering as a result of the recession in the early 80s, Evans Halshaw was holding up well and turning over in excess of £100 million a year. They put this down to having invested in training and development of their staff; coming in ahead of their competitors by being able to offer their customers more knowledgeable sales advice. Under economic uncertainty in was a bit of a gamble at the time, however it seemed to pay off, even attracting a new financial backer, Barclays Development Capital that purchased the company for 9 million in 1985.
By the 1990s they were the largest automotive retailer in the United Kingdom with an ever expanding portfolio of acquisitions including another two Peugeot businesses in 1996 as well as three more Ford franchises. That brought the Ford total to 16 dealerships, which was more than any other company in the country.
14 years with the finance of Barclays Development Capital, the company had grown in size and value. From that 9 million, the company was sold for the much larger sum of 83.7 million to Pendragon in 1999. Thanks to Pendragon’s relationships with their manufacturers, the company has not relented and today stands as the largest volume car retailer in the UK with over 120 dealerships nationwide.
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