The Intersection 5-15-22 | Automotive News


2021 was the year of the buy-sell

Dealership acquisitions

In March 2021, Automotive News, sensing a desire from our audience, decided to make a change and bulk up our coverage of new-vehicle dealership mergers and acquisitions, known colloquially as buy-sells.

For Automotive News, that meant more editorial resources devoted to the effort. Namely myself, as a reporter, and my colleague Melissa Burden, as a hybrid reporter-editor.

For our readers, it meant more coverage of buy-sell transactions. Lots more.

To be sure, Automotive News had covered buy-sells in the past, typically when one of the publicly traded dealership groups or a well-known private group or dealer decided to buy a store.

But this was different.

We started writing individual stories on transactions as they happened. It didn’t matter where in the country a deal took place or how many rooftops were involved.

We collected data on deals (more on that in a minute) submitted by dealers, buy-sell brokers and others, and we hunted down details on other transactions found in company regulatory filings, local news reports and social media posts.

Barely a month after deciding to focus more on buy-sells, one of the biggest dealership acquisitions in history happened. Lithia Motors bought the Suburban Collection, one of the largest private dealership groups in the country.

It was a harbinger for the year.

By May, it was clear that the pace of transactions was speeding up. To address it, we began compiling roundup stories with details on multiple deals, which kept coming.

The megadeals also kept sprouting. September was a whirlwind with Group 1 Automotive, Sonic Automotive and Asbury Automotive Group each announcing plans of their own to acquire some of the largest private dealership groups in the U.S.

As the deals rolled in, our data continued to grow.

Which leads us to this week’s issue.

You’ll find several data-rich stories that you won’t find anywhere else. From the number of transactions to how many franchises were involved, there’s no shortage of buy-sell data.

Want to know how many dealerships were sold in your state last year? We got you. Curious to see how many Subaru franchises traded hands in 2021? We’ve got that, too. (35, by the way.)

In all, Automotive News can now more thoroughly tell the story of last year’s surging buy-sell market, a phenomenon that continues this year.

We have the data for that, too.

Jack Walsworth   

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