Timing, strong deal fuel Asbury sale of 9 stores


Timing and a good offer were the catalysts behind a fourth-quarter deal in which megaretailer Asbury Automotive Group Inc. divested nine dealerships in North Carolina to Hudson Automotive Group of Charleston, S.C., according to Asbury CEO David Hult.

Hult told Automotive News that the company has always been focused on portfolio management and making sure they use capital for the strongest shareholder return. He said Hudson Automotive approached Asbury with the offer.

“We thought that transaction made sense for us and it made sense for the company’s shareholders and everybody,” Hult said. “So, we chose to sell the stores that we had in North Carolina. There wasn’t any OEM requirements; none of that stuff. It was just simply an opportunity for us. We thought it was a fair price.”

Asbury on Dec. 5 sold six dealerships in Greensboro, N.C., representing the Acura, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Honda, Nissan and Volvo brands. A collision shop and parking lot in that city were included in the transaction. Hudson Automotive also acquired Dodge-Ram and Ford stores in Fayetteville, N.C., from Asbury, plus a Honda store in Durham, N.C. Asbury had operated the dealerships under its Crown Automotive regional brand.

David Hudson, president of Hudson Automotive, said company leaders are excited about the new locations, describing the stores’ franchises as great brands in a great market. The transaction gives Hudson Automotive its first BMW and Volvo stores.

“We’ve been in North Carolina for many years and we’re excited to continue to grow in that area,” Hudson told Automotive News.

Until the Asbury deal, it had been a mostly quiet year on the transaction front for Hudson Automotive. Hudson on Feb. 28 purchased Summerville Ford in South Carolina. The dealership group now has more than 40 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and Louisiana, Hudson said.

It wasn’t the dealership group’s first deal with Asbury. Hudson Automotive in September 2020 purchased a Lexus dealership in Greenville, S.C., from Asbury, Hudson said.

Hult said that having a relationship with Hudson Automotive also factored into the decision to sell. Following the sale, the Crown brand has one Nissan store left in South Carolina and the rest of the stores are in Virginia selling Acura, BMW and Mini. Those stores will stay, Hult said.

For Asbury, it’s the group’s second big batch of divestitures this year. In February and March, Asbury sold seven stores to comply with automaker store-count limits following its big acquisitions in 2021 of Larry H. Miller Dealerships and Stevinson Automotive. Asbury leaders in August said the company was back in the market to buy dealerships again after pausing to work on reducing its debt ratio in the aftermath of those large purchases.

Asbury in April raised its 2025 revenue goal by 60 percent to $32 billion and Hult previously has said acquisitions would help it get to that goal.

Asbury of Duluth, Ga., ranked No. 5 on Automotive News most recent list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 109,910 new vehicles in 2021.

Hudson Automotive has renamed the new dealerships Greensboro Acura, BMW of Greensboro, Greensboro Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Greensboro Honda, Greensboro Nissan, Volvo Cars Greensboro, Fayetteville Dodge-Ram, Liberty Ford of Fayetteville and Southpoint Honda.