Quebec’s Groupe Olivier buys Groupe Lachapelle in ‘marquee acquisition’

Quebec’s Groupe Olivier is expanding in the Montreal area with the acquisition of three dealerships in Laval and one in nearby Saint-Eustache, Que.

The company announced the purchase of Groupe Lachapelle’s portfolio of four dealerships on Jan. 4 without disclosing the financial terms.

The addition of Hamel Honda, Chomedey Toyota Laval, Mazda de Laval and Honda Ste-Rose brings Groupe Olivier tally of new-vehicle stores to 21. All but two of the locations are in Quebec, with single dealerships in Grand Falls and Bathurst in neighbouring New Brunswick being the exceptions. The company also owns several used-vehicle locations in Quebec.

Toronto-based Templeton Marsh, which brokered the deal, said the purchase of the four Montreal area stores checked “many boxes” for Groupe Olivier, most notably the addition of rooftops in Quebec’s largest market.

“This is their real marquee acquisition,” said Managing Partner Samir Akhavan. “This is the one that elevates them to a different level in terms of size, scale, recognition.”

Groupe Olivier is based in the Longueuil, Que. borough of Saint-Hubert, a south shore suburb of Montreal, but prior to its latest purchase, most of its dealerships were in smaller towns and cities.

Akhavan said the acquisition of Hamel Honda is particularly notable, as the dealership is a “perennial top-five in Canada” for the vehicle brand. In a good year, he added, sales volume at the dealership runs to more than 3,500 vehicles.

Groupe Olivier has been an active buyer in recent months. The four-store deal with Groupe Lachapelle follows the company’s acquisition of Hyundai Sorel-Tracy and Kia Sorel-Tracy in November.

As with the dealership acquisitions in the Montreal area, the financial terms of the unrelated Sorel-Tracy deal were not shared.

The value of the underlying real estate involved in both transactions, however, was disclosed Jan. 4.

While Groupe Olivier took over the six dealerships, Toronto-based Automotive Properties Real Estate Investment Trust acquired the 21.7 acres (8.8 hectares) of land that houses the half dozen stores. The company, which owns the real estate beneath 76 dealerships in Canada, said it purchased the properties in Laval, Saint-Eustache and Sorel-Tracy for $98.5 million.

The REIT has leased all six properties, which include dealership facilities that cover a combined 187,421 square-feet (17412 square-metres), to Groupe Olivier.

The two Quebec deals, meantime, are part of what Akhavan sees as an emerging provincial trend.

“Consolidation has come a little bit later to Quebec than Ontario and Western Canada,” he said, noting that the acquisitions of four or more stores have come relatively frequently elsewhere in Canada in recent years, but not in Quebec. He anticipates buy/sell activity in the province to pick up as dealers contemplate new industry challenges, and as the current generation of owners eye the exit.

For Groupe Lachapelle owner Gilles Lachapelle, Akhavan said, retirement was the key motivation for selling. Templeton Marsh began early discussions about a possible sale with the longtime dealer in early 2022.

Akhavan credited a mix of the “right timing” and “right buyer” for the deal getting done.

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