IM Group acquires rights to Irish Citroën operation

UK-based private importer, IM Group is set to take over the importing and selling of Citroën and DS vehicles in Ireland.

As reported to local sources, the firm – which also imports and distributes Subaru and Great Wall vehicles in Ireland – has purchased Citroën Motors Ireland for an undisclosed sum (pending full completion on October 1).

Cars will reportedly continue to be sold through the existing Citroën/DS dealership network, with the Citroën Motors Ireland workforce becoming employees of the IM Group.

Prior to 2009, when Automobiles Citroen took over the direct distribution of its vehicles in Ireland, the importers had been Gallic Distributors, a subsidiary of the Gowan Group, since 1982.

According to The Irish Times, the sale of Citroën Motors Ireland “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.”

Recently appointed managing director of Citroën Motors Ireland, Pedro Regalado is quoted as stating: “Across Europe, we have a market share of 5.5% [in total for vans and cars] and we believe we should be aiming to get a [combined] 5% share here in Ireland.”

Regalado added that he sees the reasons behind the sale as: “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.”

At present Citroën has a network of 22 franchise dealerships in Ireland, alongside four aftersales service-only centres.

Founded in 1976 as Jensen Parts & Services Ltd, the IM Group changed its identity to International Motors Ltd in 1980 and gained the Hyundai franchise the following year.

Its first business outside the UK, Vehicle Importers Ireland Ltd was set up in 1984 to import Subaru cars into the Republic of Ireland. Today, IM Group is a significant global player in automotive, finance and property.