AFTER a year long review, East of England Co-op is preparing its exit from the motor trade.
The society has sold two of its sites, part of the Sterling Motor Group, in Colchester and Sudbury, as part of an ongoing disposal programme of the Group.
Discussions are also progressing well regarding the sale of Derby Road site in Ipswich.
It still retains sites at Burrell Road, Ipswich; Horsley's Field, King's Lynn; North Lynn Industrial Estate, Kings Lynn; and Hall Road, Norwich, which are all expected to be disposed of as part of the society's programme.
The first transaction to be completed was the transfer to new owners of the Peugeot dealership in Wimpole Road, Colchester, last month.
Underwoods, a local motor group, will also take over the society's Vauxhall and Peugeot dealerships in Cornard Road, Sudbury, later this month.
A statement issued by the society said: "Prominent in negotiations with prospective purchasers has been the desire to ensure that as many as possible of the staff of the Motor Group are able to successfully transfer to new employers and that business continuity for customers is seamless."
The society, which is the result of a merger last year between the Colchester & East Essex and Ipswich & Norwich societies, will be retaining a freehold interest in the sites in the majority of cases.
A review of the Motor Group has been ongoing since last spring, when the Ipswich Car Exchange and the Norwich North Peugeot dealership were closed. This was followed by the consolidation of the Felixstowe Peugeot dealership at the Sterling Ipswich site in June, and the scaling down of the Jeep and Chrysler dealership in Kings Lynn in October.
Richard Samson, Chief Executive Designate for the East of England Society, commented: "The former Ipswich and Norwich Society's Board of Directors concluded that the volatility and changing nature of the motor business had taken it further away from the main direction of the society.
"However, the East of England Society will continue to invest heavily in retail stores and services. Separating the businesses will give greater focus and clarity to that process. By selling our motor business to established high volume dealerships we will secure continuity for our customers and staff."