Under new CEO, Group 1 to continue focus on growth, technology

Group 1 Automotive Inc. will stay focused on growth through acquisitions, both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, as the public dealership group prepares for a CEO changeover next year.

Daryl Kenningham, Group 1’s president of U.S. operations since 2019 until his promotion this week to president and COO, will take over as chief executive in January following the year-end retirement of CEO Earl Hesterberg, which was announced Wednesday. Kenningham told Automotive News that the dealership group will look for “quality acquisitions” with regard to locations and vehicle brands that best align with the company’s direction.

“We’re not going to just chase revenue for the sake of chasing revenue,” said Kenningham, who declined to discuss whether Houston-based Group 1 has deals in the pipeline. “We get plenty of acquisition opportunities across our desks that are either in places that we don’t feel it’s a place we want to be or brands that we feel like we can’t make successful long term. So we are looking for quality.”

Kenningham, 58, will be in position to execute on that strategy as of Jan. 1, when he assumes the CEO role. Hesterberg, 69, will leave Group 1 effective Dec. 31.

Kenningham joined Group 1 in 2011, first in the role of regional vice president before taking on additional responsibilities.

“Now is the perfect time to transition to a new generation of leadership at our company,” Hesterberg said in a statement. Group 1 did not make Hesterberg available for an interview this week.

“Daryl’s performance throughout his career has been exemplary, and he has driven our U.S. business to record levels,” Hesterberg said. “Although I will sorely miss the wonderful people at Group 1, this transition will be seamless and our Company could not be in better hands.”

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