The Hepworth Motor Group has closed its Halifax Mitsubishi Motors in the UK franchise dealership due to the effects of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic – with the loss of 10 jobs.
Stephen Brighton, managing director of the group, told AM that the company on King Street, Halifax, which had been renamed by its former Honda brand in June 2018, "had been making losses for a while".
He said the site's closure was not linked to Mitsubishi's announcement last week that the UK and European new car market was about to be withdrawn.
As AM reported exclusively, Mitsubishi franchise retailers were informed in a letter from British importer Colt Car Company (CCC) of the effects of the move, which said it "never expected to receive the news".
Brighton informed AM that the closure of the Halifax Mitsubishi retail location would leave its business with the Honda franchise in Huddersfield and SsangYong in Horsforth, both of which became profitable again in June.
These retailers have benefited from pent-up demand to block COVID-19 and Honda franchise locations in neighboring Rochdale and Barnsley as part of their plan to scale down their UK retail network.
Brighton explained the Hepworth group's decision to close the Mitsubishi dealership in Halifax to AM: “We had problems controlling our overhead costs during the pandemic, and because we have two locations, both Honda and Mitsubishi parts and After-sales, we decided to open only our larger ones. The Huddersfield dealership and Ssangyong facility in Horsforth closed our Mitsubishi dealership in Halifax on June 1st, and some jobs were moved to Huddersfield. Unfortunately there will be up to 10 layoffs.
"The location had been at a loss for some time when the group tried to establish the Mitsubishi brand against the background of the pandemic challenges in March against the backdrop of economic uncertainty and lack of trust from Brexit."
Brighton said customers' travel times would "increase only slightly for the majority of our customers."
He added, “We will continue to offer our Mitsubishi customers extensive customer service and parts support from our Huddersfield location, including free auto and pickup / delivery options, as well as full Honda dealer facilities and used Mitsubishi sales.
“I would like to thank you for the support that both manufacturer partners gave us before and during this difficult time.