Briggs Auto Group agrees to sell its remaining Lawrence dealerships; large Kansas City-area dealer is the buyer

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

McCarthy Auto Group has reached a deal to purchase the Subaru and Nissan dealerships owned by Briggs Auto Group of Manhattan. The dealerships in the Lawrence Auto Plaza on south Iowa Street will begin being run by McCarthy on Monday, April 1.

Get ready for a brand new player in the Lawrence auto market. McCarthy Auto Group, which owns nine dealerships in Missouri and the greater Kansas City area, soon will own two in Lawrence.

A McCarthy official confirmed today that it has reached a deal to buy the Lawrence Nissan and Subaru dealerships currently owned by Manhattan-based Briggs Auto Group. The deal, once completed, will mark the end of the Manhattan dealer owning any dealerships in Lawrence.

Karl Kramer, communications director for McCarthy Auto Group, said McCarthy would begin running the Nissan and Subaru dealerships — located in the Lawrence Auto Plaza on south Iowa Street — on Monday as a part of a management contract. McCarthy expects to finalize the purchase of the dealerships in May, once the two auto manufacturers give their approvals to the dealership change.

“We are excited about moving a little bit farther west,” Kramer said. “We are excited about how we can serve the auto customers and their needs in this area.”

McCarthy does have a major presence in nearby Olathe. It operates a Nissan, a Chevrolet and a Hyundai dealership in Olathe. Kramer said those dealerships already were getting some business from Lawrence and other points farther west. He said the auto group’s owner, John C. McCarthy, has an interest in serving more.

“This was just an opportunity that presented itself, and John thinks Lawrence is a great market,” Kramer said. “We already provide service to a lot of customers from the west, and we want to meet more.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

McCarthy Auto Group — which has nine dealerships in the Kansas City area — soon will add two in Lawrence. It has reached a deal to buy the Nissan and Subaru dealerships owned by Briggs Auto Group. With the sale, Briggs will no longer operate any dealerships in Lawrence.

Kramer said there should be good synergies, especially between the Lawrence and Olathe operations. But he said McCarthy would make a point to become involved in the Lawrence community.

“Our grassroots community involvement is really important to what we do,” Kramer said. “We don’t think of it as an obligation at all. We look at it as a great opportunity and a real pleasure.”

The McCarthy deal is just the latest for the Lawrence auto market. Earlier this month, we reported first on Lawrence-based Dale Willey Auto Group buying the Lawrence-based Jack Ellena Honda dealership. More recently, we reported that Dale Willey also has a deal pending to purchase the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram dealership owned by Briggs. Much like the McCarthy deal, Dale Willey already has begun running the dealership while awaiting for the deal to be finalized in 30 to 45 days. That deal also includes Briggs’ used auto center along south Iowa Street.

I’ve reached out to officials at the Manhattan corporate offices of Briggs about their decision to leave the Lawrence market but haven’t heard back.

Kramer said McCarthy has agreements in place that will allow McCarthy to complete any deals that were underway with Briggs, and also to service any past deals.

“We want the transition to be seamless,” Kramer said. “We have very good workings with Mr. Briggs. We don’t want the customers to really notice anything on their end, other than how we are taking care of them.”

John C. McCarthy has been in the auto business in Kansas City for about 30 years, Kramer said. In addition to the Olathe dealerships, he also has Chevrolet dealerships in Overland Park and in Lee’s Summit, Mo., plus a Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealership in Marshall, Mo. The company also has a Toyota dealership in Sedalia, Mo., and a Hyundai dealership and a used auto center in Blue Springs, Mo.


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