Krause Auto buys 3 Florida dealerships for more than $110M from Sutherlin Automotive

As Printed in Automotive News, February 3

Krause Auto Group, of Alpharetta, Ga., purchased three Florida dealerships that together cost more than $110 million, the auto retailer said.

Krause Auto on Monday purchased Sutherlin Nissan of Cape Coral, Sutherlin Nissan of Fort Myers and Sutherlin Genesis in Fort Myers from Sutherlin Automotive Group.

The Fort Myers Nissan store is one of the most profitable for the brand in the country, said Mike Sims, president of buy-sell firm Pinnacle Mergers and Acquisitions in Frisco, Texas, which represented Sutherlin in the sale.

While specific prices were not disclosed for each location, Sims told Automotive News that he believes the Fort Myers Nissan store garnered the highest amount paid for a Nissan dealership based on his knowledge of acquisition pricing.

Vernon Krause, CEO of his namesake group, said in a statement that he was excited about the stores because he grew up in Fort Myers.

“Having the ability to contribute to the automotive industry in this particular thriving market is a full-circle moment for me,” he said.

Krause Auto renamed the stores Nissan of Cape Coral, Nissan of Fort Myers and Fort Myers Genesis. Krause Auto plans to renovate the Fort Myers Nissan dealership, including expanding the service department. Krause Auto said the Genesis store is operating out of a facility on the Nissan property and will relocate about a mile south.

Mike Spinazze, general manager for the dealerships, will stay on in that role. He also holds a 40 percent financial stake in both Nissan stores, according to Krause Auto.

Buy-sell experts have said high-performing stores in attractive markets net high valuations, even as dealership valuations have dipped slightly.

Record prices reportedly were fetched for three Morgan Automotive Group purchases in June and January: Al Hendrickson Toyota in Coconut Creek, Fla., and Honda and BMW dealerships in South Florida, according to buy-sell firm Haig Partners, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Krause’s purchase follows another Florida Nissan dealership acquisition for the group in December. Krause Auto owns dealerships in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. The group in April purchased a Hyundai store in Georgia from Sutherlin Automotive.

Sutherlin Automotive, of Buford, Ga., sold two Nissan dealerships in that state last April before acquiring the former Reinhardt Lexus-Toyota in Montgomery, Ala.

In a LinkedIn post, Sutherlin Automotive CEO Brett Sutherlin said the group had finished selling dealerships and was “looking forward to growing in 2024 and beyond.” He said he has a store purchase under contract.

Krause Auto ranks No. 69 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 12,771 new vehicles in 2022.