Rival Quebec dealerships swap stores in unusual deal

Groupe Vincent and Groupe Le Prix du gros, two dealership bodies in the same geographical area in Quebec, recently engaged in a rare transaction swapping dealerships.

Group Vincent, which began in 1924 and is a fourth-generation company, acquired Shawinigan Chrysler from Groupe Le Prix du gros, which received Hyundai Trois Rivieres in the deal. Maxime Vincent, who became Groupe Vincent’s President in 2011, said the deal was done to manage dealerships in the same area.

“I had two Hyundai dealerships 25 minutes apart, so I sold one for a Chrysler dealership and it’s a nice addition to my other brands, which is Mazda, Honda and Hyundai,” he said.

Vincent said he and Le Prix du gros President/CEO Benoit Dusablon talked about doing this deal for several years, but it finally came together three months ago with Francois McDonald, who brokered the sales for Dealer Solutions’ Mergers and Acquisitions (DSMA). The deal was finalized earlier this month.

“It’s my biggest competitor, so it’s strange when you look at it from the outside but from the inside it makes a lot of sense,” said Vincent. “With dealerships sometimes it’s a matter of fighting. It’s like a wrestling match. We can fight in the ring, but we have to be clever about the future. That’s how we worked this deal together. It’s strange for the staff as well.”

Le Prix du gros President/CEO Benoit Dusablon said when Vincent called him it made sense to do the deal.

“It took me like five minutes to think about it, we settled on a number and that was it,” he said. “I’ve never heard of a deal like this before, but I’m part of the new generation of car dealership owners. To me, we’re not like rivals. We’re entrepreneurs and we operate in the same business.”

McDonald said the cross transactions allows the two groups to add local brands to their respective dealership portfolios and demonstrate the agility and co-ordination required by all parties involved to bring these deals to fruition.

“What facilitated the transaction to take place was my knowledge of the market and who’s looking for what and who is trying to build their group to a certain size,” said McDonald.

He said in his seven years of brokering deals, this was a first for him involving area dealerships.

“It doesn’t happen that often,” he said. “I think it has happened in the past in Western Canada, but as far I’m concerned it’s the first time in Quebec.”

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