A family-owned business that began life in dilapidated premises in Meneage Street, Helston, and grew to become one of the UK’s leading car dealership groups is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
When Stanley and Thelma Carr purchased the then Jory’s Garage in 1960, they began by selling petrol at 4s 7d (23p) a gallon and the likes of an old Austin A35 van for just £160.
From such humble beginnings, the Helston Garages Group has expanded beyond all recognition. Today the Carrs’ son and daughter-in-law, David and Betty Carr, own a group with 30 dealerships across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, representing many of the motoring world’s leading manufacturers.
Its state-of-the-art showroom, workshops and offices in Meneage Street are home to over 30 staff and headquarters for an operation that employs a further 700 at its other locations and with a turnover in excess of £300 million.
These include two Peugeot franchises at Exeter and Honiton that were added to the group earlier this year, despite the historically difficult economic conditions, to maintain the group’s sustained growth.
They joined a range that also includes Volkswagens, Audis, Peugeots, BMWs, Ferraris, Maseratis, Volvos, Land Rovers, Mazdas, Porsches, Minis and Jaguars.
Initially, the Carrs’ business began as a BMC agent selling and servicing Austin, Morris and MG cars and offering Esso petrol on its small forecourt.
Subsequent developments included a purpose-built servicing bay in 1972. David and Betty Carr purchased Helston Garages from their parents in 1975 and a year later completed their first geographical expansion, acquiring a Renault franchise in Taunton.
Group managing director Andy Barrett, said: “The policy is to continue as a family-owned business and to build further on our established links with the manufacturers we represent.”