ST. CATHARINES, ONT. – It is safe to say Glen Alizadeh and the executives at AutoPlanet Automotive Group made the biggest splash in the Canadian dealer world so far this year.
While those in the know may have heard rumours of the Brampton, Ont.-based group’s growth aspirations in recent years, few would have predicted its purchase of the nine-store, 16-brand Performance Auto Group.
Finalized in early March and announced in a simple press release void of fanfare, the megadeal sees AutoPlanet take over Niagara's largest automotive group from
John Mann and Cam Champion 50 years after the pair opened their first store on Lake St. in St. Catharines, Ont.
Shortly after the sale was announced, AutoPlanet president Glen Alizadeh spoke with Canadian AutoWorld about the blockbuster transaction, economies of scale and the difficulties of deciding on a name.
Canadian AutoWorld: You sure know how to make a statement! How long has this deal been in the works?
Glen Alizadeh: We had been working on this for over a year ahead of the announcement.
Was buying a group always part of AutoPlanet’s growth strategy?
We always wanted to grow but that was based on individual dealerships as well as start-up operations. That’s been the strategy. When we started to hear of this opportunity over a year ago, that’s when we started to look at it more seriously and consider if we would be able to do a transaction of this size.
Prior to the deal, had AutoPlanet been adding stores recently?
Yes. We were adding roughly one a year, though we weren’t looking for any particular brands. We looked at the opportunities.
Over the years, we’ve bought very different types of stores. Some were highly profitable, some that were not as profitable. We looked at every opportunity individually.
Why did you decided to use the Performance Auto Group brand instead of continue with AutoPlanet?
The AutoPlanet name was created about six years ago; it’s not what we founded the group by. Changing the name is probably the hardest decision I’ve had in my career. I’ve had a lot of respect for the Performance Auto Group over the years. They have a great reputation and I love the name. I just thought it would be a better name to grow our brand and we all agreed.
Will the names of the stores change?
Probably not. We may do a name change on one or two of the stores within the next year.
What is the next step?
We will proceed with the integration of Performance Auto Group, then rebranding the AutoPlanet stores – not the names but just incorporating the Performance Auto Group name.
- Read the rest of the interview in the May issue of Canadian AutoWorld -