GPI founder and CEO Colin Edwards has sold the group’s automotive division, fitness division, and corporate division, to Australian private equity firm Collins St Asset Management for an undisclosed amount. The sale was finalised on 1 September after 10 months of negotiation.
Edwards has retained the group’s bicycle company and abrasives operation for now, though he said “what will happen with those, time will tell”.
The companies sold were 100 per cent owned by Edwards, with the retained entities majority owned by the automotive entrepreneur.
Edwards said he was approached by Collin St Asset Management after an earlier deal fell over. He denied rumours that AMA Group had been a potential buyer, saying it was “all rubbish”.
Under the arrangement, Edwards, 82, will head the operation for a minimum of two years and the group’s more than 200 personnel will be retained. However, he will seek to employ a CEO in around 12 months’ time. Existing management has also been given the opportunity to invest in the business.
Edwards said Collins St Asset Management will lease all GPI premises – 13 warehouses around Australia – joking that the arrangement means he “won’t have to go on the dole”.
According to Edwards, Collins Street Asset Management purchased the businesses because of “the prospects and the performance that we have shown over the years”. He also praised the company, saying “I think they are the most profitable trader in that area; they are renowned as number one in Victoria as an investment company”.
Reflecting on his time in the industry, Edwards said: “It’s been a great haul. I am now currently 54 years in the automotive industry, in the paint and body shop area of the industry. April next year makes me 55 years in this area.
“I love the industry. I’m going to continue to stay in the industry. I’m still going to call on the same people; I’m still going to be in touch with our suppliers overseas on a constant basis.
“Nothing is going to change.”